It's no secret that identity theft is a serious problem. There were 14.4 million victims of identity fraud in the U.S. in 2018, according to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research. Of those victims, 23% had unreimbursed expenses due to fraud—almost three times as many as in 2016.
Identity theft can result in the loss of time and money—and can even have lasting emotional effects. It could have a major impact on your life, making it difficult to secure employment, affect your Social Security benefits, prevent your children from getting financial aid for college—the list goes on.
How Does Identity Theft Protection Work?
Identity theft protection services can offer you peace of mind, as well as valuable services that can help you both prevent identity theft and recover your identity if you're a victim. Such programs monitor your credit and the dark web, alerting you if your sensitive information is in the wrong hands. They may also offer the ability to lock or unlock your credit reports instantly, issue real-time alerts if anyone applies for credit in your name, alert you to aliases associated with your Social Security number, and more. Finally, identity theft protection can also offer insurance on stolen funds.
Should I Get Identity Theft Protection?
You can monitor your credit reports on your own, but you will only be able to access them for free once a year from each of the credit bureaus. You can also freeze your credit reports, but identity theft protection services make it easier to instantly lock and unlock your credit so you can apply for new credit easily when you need to.
If you know your personal information was part of a data breach or you've already been a victim of identity theft, it may be worth it to pay for a service that offers more comprehensive protection. It's also difficult to stay alert at all times—identity theft protection does that for you. Finally, insurance to cover stolen funds can be a lifeline if your identity and money fall into the wrong hands.
What Identity Protection Services Does Experian Offer?
Experian offers identity theft protection with two plans: IdentityWorksSM Plus for $9.99 per month, and IdentityWorksSM Premium for $19.99 a month. You can try both services for free with a 30-day trial. Both services offer dark web surveillance, access to a U.S.-based fraud resolution specialist, identity theft monitoring and alerts, and more. IdentityWorks Premium offers FICO® Scores from each of the three national credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion and Equifax) every quarter, in addition to double the amount of identity theft insurance.
How Does Experian's Identity Theft Protection Compare With Its Competitors?
Experian offers one of the most competitive and comprehensive products on the market. Competitors like LifeLock are not credit bureaus, so you don't have the ability to instantly lock and unlock your credit files through their services. Only Experian can offer you comprehensive 3-bureau credit monitoring, as well as your FICO Scores. You will also pay less for Experian's premium product than with LifeLock's premium offering.
Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are author's alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer or other company, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities. All information, including rates and fees, are accurate as of the date of publication.