Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Affordable Identity Theft Protection

You hear about identity theft on the news, but is it something you worry about? How about someone breaking into your car? Or breaking into your home? Are you careful where you park your car and lock it up? Do you lock your house when you leave? I'll bet you do. Crime is an insidious problem just about everywhere in the country. But, seriously, are these criminals really out to steal your identity as well as your stuff?

You bet they are. They'll take everything you have and stick you with a pile of unpaid bills if they possibly can. These criminals may well be targeting you as we speak. They got 15 million people last year alone, a rate of one identity stolen every couple of seconds. Could you really be next? Well, you are 25 times more likely to have your identity stolen than have your car broken into. It's 40 times more likely you'll have your identity stolen than your home broken into. Why? It's a lucrative and relatively safe venture for the criminals. They don't need a gun. They don't need to risk a personal confrontation. They just need to get their dirty hands on some basic information about you that they might find online, from stolen computer files, unwanted credit card applications you threw in the trash. All sorts of records in files here and there that you've long since forgotten about.

The consequences? They'll take your good name and wreck it. No new credit for you. That's no new car, no new house, may a turn-down for that job you wanted. Plus you get stuck with the bills they ran up. Now you have the ugly job of proving to creditors that someone other than yourself did the deed. That can take hundreds of hours and maybe a couple of years to undo the damage. Worst case, you wind up in jail because of fraud that someone else committed in your name. Think that's going to be pleasant or inexpensive to deal with?

OK. You lock your car. You lock your house. How do you lock your identity? The hard and time consuming way is to stand guard yourself. You can constantly request reports from the major credit bureaus to see if anything unapproved is going on. You can chase after everyone sending you junk mail with credit offers that might be misappropriated. You can even buy identity theft insurance. But it's still your problem and if you turn your back when nothing seems to be going on, that's when the bad guys will sneak in and get you.

Here's a better way. Spend a small amount of money on a security system for your identity. In a way, it works something like a home security system that warns you if somebody tries to break into your house. This service will warn you if someone tries to steal your identity. More than that, it will prevent them from actually setting up credit in your name and sticking you with the bill.

That service is LifeLock. It's better than crediting reporting services, better than identity theft insurance, and more certain than trying to remember to stay on top of these things yourself. You order LifeLock and pay them a small monthly or annual fee for yourself, your spouse and even your children. Immediately, their systems add fraud alerts and request credit reports on your behalf from the credit bureaus. From then on, nobody can apply for credit in your name without you getting a phone call to approve it. Next, your name is removed from junk mail lists and pre-approved credit offer lists. That will cut down on the annoying mail you receive and eliminate a souce of personal information that thieves routinely steal.

The real value-added service of LifeLock comes later. LifeLock remembers to renew fraud alerts on your credit. It remembers to get you updated credit bureau reports. Should the worst happen and some sneaky thief still finds a way to steal your identity, LifeLock will spend what it takes, up to $1,000,000 to restore your good name and make the problem go away, at no additional charge to you. This is comprehensive identity theft protection service designed to meet the real threat of today's criminal activities.

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