Identity and theft are two words that, together, make most people cringe. Millions of people around the world are affected every year, whether it's in the form of credit card fraud or other banking fraud, misrepresentation, or the full-on "I'm that person now" type that can take years to sort out.
Unfortunately, identity theft isn't going away. You still have rudimentary credit and debit card skimmers overtop of ATMs, but our modern, connected world makes it easier for thieves to get ahold of your sensitive info without leaving home. Not only can a hacked password be troublesome, full-blown data breaches are prime offenders when it comes to leaking your information. That website you signed up for a couple of years ago that required a lot of sensitive information has been hacked and — gasp! — your name is on the list.
Hopefully, this hasn't actually happened to you, but if it has, an online security service — think LifeLock (opens in new tab), Identity Guard (opens in new tab), IdentityForce (opens in new tab) — can definitely help. Even if you don't know whether or not your info has been leaked, there are a few reasons why you might want to start subscribing now.
Online security services can save you time
Obsessively checking your bank statements and credit scores following a data breach is time-consuming and tiresome. Even if you aren't on any known lists, you still occasionally keep an eye on your sensitive information to be sure that there's nothing suspicious going on.
If you're a frequent traveler, you're no doubt more vigilant when it comes keeping an eye on your information. On a vacation? It sucks having to check whether or not that hole-in-the-wall restaurant decided to use your credit card for a bit of extra fun.
One thing most online security services will do is monitor your activity and will let you know if there are any weird occurrences. Not only is your bank and credit monitored, some services will even keep an eye on social media accounts to ensure that not too much is being shared with the world, and will also monitor the Dark Web, a place where stolen information can often be found.
Online security services can protect your credit
Good credit takes a long time to build, and it can be destroyed before you have an idea that it's happening. Oftentimes, canceling your credit cards isn't enough if your number gets out.
Someone with enough of your information can not only buy expensive things using your banking credentials, they could also potentially open phone contracts, take out loans, purchase real estate, or get in deep with the taxman. Especially if you're already the victim of a data breach, an online security service can prevent the likelihood of you watching your credit score plummet.
Online security services can get your stolen money back
Not only do worthwhile online security services monitor for suspicious activity, with the right plan you can also receive assistance from lawyers and reimbursement for lost funds.
All services don't offer the same package, and there's usually a limit to how much you can be reimbursed, but having that assurance in the back of your mind is no doubt a boon for anyone who's heading into an otherwise awful situation.
Online security services can protect your identity
Not being able to use your own identity because it's in the hands of someone else leaves you feeling helpless and frustrated. Once someone else has their hands on your identity, it can be expensive and difficult to get it back without someone fighting on your side.
Worthwhile services monitor where your personal information is used in a number of different cases. Did someone try to open a phone contract in California while you're living comfortably in Minnesota? You'll be notified immediately on your phone, and if it's not you who's using your identity, you can shut it down immediately.
Online security services can help regain your identity faster
If the worst has happened and your identity has indeed been stolen, an online security service can and will help you regain it. Depending on the plan you have, the service will take care of the paperwork and hassle of restoring your identity, leaving you free to live your life as normally as possible.
If you going in alone against the theft seems like an overwhelming scenario, these services have trained professionals that can get things done the right way.
Are you a believer?
Do you think online security services are a worthwhile investment in the age of big data breaches? Why or why not? Let us know in the comments section!
Cale Hunt is a Senior Editor at Windows Central. He focuses mainly on laptop reviews, news, and accessory coverage. He's been reviewing laptops and accessories full time since 2016, with hundreds of reviews published for Windows Central. He is an avid PC gamer and multi-platform user, and spends most of his time either tinkering with or writing about tech.
You could have at least put in the title that you got paid to post this.
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