With identity theft much in the news, various ID theft protection services have emerged. But a recent Wall Street Journal article said most are not worth the cost. The only pay-to-play service that may be worthwhile is a credit freeze, which prevents access to your credit file. Depending on where you live, it may cost $10 at each of the three main credit bureaus to freeze your credit file (it’s free if you are a victim of identity theft). And then you’ll have to pay to lift the freeze if you want to apply for new credit. Besides the cost and time involved, another downside to a credit freeze is that it only protects against someone trying to open a new line of credit in your name; it won’t prevent a thief from using an existing credit line.
The best steps for guarding your financial identity are to zealously protect your Social Security Number, review your credit report via AnnualCreditReport.com to look for accounts you did not open, and either stop receiving offers in the mail for new credit or shred any offers you receive before throwing them away.
The newest form of identity theft is medical identity theft. If someone steals your medical insurance information they could receive care paid for by your insurance. Even worse, their health conditions could end up on your health record, which could impact the care you receive. In order to keep tabs on your medical identity, the World Privacy Forum suggests requesting from your health insurance provider an annual listing of all benefits paid in your name.