Identity theft has become a more serious problem than robberies and other forms of illegalities. Millions and millions of Americans (and not only) fall victims to ID theft every year. A single data breach in 2017 has affected around 150 million citizens in the US, and that was just one incident in a constant series of hacking schemes.
Factors that contribute to ID theft
Simply put, identity theft (in short, ID theft) occurs when an unauthorized person manages to get access to your personal info, such as your Social Security Number, bank account info, etc. There are plenty of unpleasant consequences that can follow. The thief can use your credit cards, open accounts using your name, empty your bank account, affect your credit score, your taxes, steal your driver license info and so much more.
How does ID theft occur?
There are a lot of ways to get your identity stolen and technology is a bit culprit. Since almost everything nowadays is done through the internet and your entire online safety lies in a few passwords, if motivated and ambitious enough, the most tech-savvy of the criminals can find a way to hack your data, if you are not careful enough.
Your social media accounts, your e-mail accounts are good targets. Text messages, malware, skimming (targets cardholders) are common methods used by ID thieves to get access to your personal data.
Should you use an identity theft protection service?
ID theft protection services are a flourishing business. What they do is they monitor your personal information in exchange of a monthly or annual fee. Most services usually monitor your credit as well and alert you in case any changes are made to your accounts, credit reports and other data concerning your identity.
While they can’t actually prevent ID theft from happening, these services can alert you in time so that you can take measures and mitigate the effects. Most of them also offer recovery services in case you do become a victim of ID theft.
Identity theft protection services are useful, but you can also monitor your accounts, credit reports and personal data yourself. It just takes time and patience.
ID theft protection services are especially useful if you are already vulnerable. For instance, if you were involved in a data breach and your Social Security Number is exposed. Another scenario would be if you lose your SS card for instance.
These services are also useful to people who don’t have the time to monitor their personal and financial data by themselves or simply prefer to let others take care of that aspect of their lives.
What can you do to reduce the risk of becoming an ID theft victim
Regardless whether you decide to sign up for an ID protection service or not, there are some things you can do, too, to reduce the risk of falling victim to ID theft:
- Be very careful with your personal documents and where you keep them
- Make it a habit to shred or destroy any documents you don’t need anymore
- Use strong passwords for all your online accounts
- Give only the absolute minimum of personal information on websites and social media platforms and only when required
- Restrict the access to your mailbox, especially if you have to leave town
Zander ID Theft Protection – Is it a good option?
The Zander ID Theft Protection service is offered by Zander Insurance Group, one of the oldest insurance companies in the US. Zander Insurance was founded in 1920 and is headquartered in Tennessee. The company provides mostly insurance services (auto insurance, health insurance, life insurance, business insurance), but also offers an identity theft protection service.
Zander Insurance is endorsed by Dave Ramsey, a successful business man and motivational speaker. The company also has an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau.
There are two available plans when it comes to Zander’s ID protection service: an Individual plan and a Family plan.
Both of them give you the option to choose between being billed on a monthly or annual basis.
Individual: This plan is $6.75/month or $75/year.
Family: This plan is $12.90/month and $145/year.
As payment methods you can choose between debit/credit and electronic check.
In order to sign up for Zander’s service, you have to fill in an online form: full name, address (including your state), your birthday, phone number and your e-mail.
What does the service include
- Alerts in case of changes to your sensitive data (your SSN number, credit reports)
- 24/7 access to their certified specialists
- Child protection
- SSN monitoring
- Up to $1 million insurance in case of ID theft
- It follows up for 36 months after helping customers recover from ID theft
- It helps you set credit freezes
- It helps you getting access to your free credit reports
The $1 million insurance offered by Zander covers several expenses: legal fees, costs to replace certain documents, getting your credit reports, lost wages (up to $30,000) and more.
Zander covers all the common types of ID theft, from Social Security fraud, criminal ID theft, to medical ID theft, financial fraud, employment fraud and more.
Zander is definitely a reputable ID theft protection service, with more than 90 years of experience on the market. It is reasonably priced and the family plan is really affordable. The full-service recovery, 24/7 customer support and various types of frauds covered make it a good option to consider.
Their customer support is one of their biggest strengths. Zander offers around the clock support via phone and e-mail, it has great response times and their reps are really helpful and eager to help.
If we were to also mention the shortcomings of Zander, we would have to go with the lack of credit monitoring, which other companies also include with their ID theft protection service. A mobile app would also be a useful addition, as most people use their smartphones for everything nowadays.