If you purchase identity protection, you might think it will prevent you from being a victim of an identity theft scam. But as you’ll see, the reality is more complicated. Identity theft protection is often a wise investment—but don’t let it fool you into a false sense of security.
First, it helps to understand the scope of the problem. According to the 2017 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research, identity fraud hit a record high in 2016, with 15 million U.S. victims. We’ve written about some of the most popular types of identity theft scams and how to avoid several of them, such as tax-related scams and fantasy football scams.
Given how common and damaging identity theft is, many people are turning to identity theft protection plans. These plans can be a terrific value, especially those that include monitoring and protection services to defend you against personal, financial, and medical identity theft.
Once you purchase the added protection, it’s easy to think you’ll never be a victim of identity theft—but that’s not the case. In fact, identity theft protection doesn’t prevent identity theft any more than car insurance prevents collisions. What it does is give you peace of mind and help you recover quickly if the worst happens.
An identity theft protection plan will typically feature credit and other monitoring services that can spot identity theft early—before significant harm occurs. Comprehensive plans will also include recovery support, so if you are victimized, you will get the professional help you need to quickly restore your identity. Some plans will also include identity theft insurance to reimburse you for your out-of-pocket expenses if you are a victim.
In sum, if you are worried about identity theft, consider investing in a comprehensive identity theft protection plan. It could help you spot identity theft sooner and recover faster, at less cost—just don’t assume it will prevent identity scams from happening in the first place.