A reader asks:
With all that is going on in the news with credit theft I would like to know your opinion on who you think is the best identity theft company to purchase insurance from at this time? Lifelock or Identity Guard?
This is a great question. While we are not in the ID security business or the credit reporting business, I suppose it seems natural to our customers that we might know something about this subject because the Equifax breach was perpetrated by computer hackers and we are in the computer business. While ID theft is outside of our purview as a company, I will try to answer based on the reading and research I have personally done on this situation.
I personally don’t believe in identity protection services, because you are only alerted after your identity has already potentially been stolen, or at least compromised.
A better option is to initiate a credit freeze with the three main credit reporting bureaus. This does not affect any current credit that you have open. It only prevents an ID thief (and you) from authorizing a check on your credit report (thereby making it impossible to get credit in your name). If you need to permit someone access to your credit report, say to open a new credit card or apply for a car loan or get an insurance quote, you will need to unfreeze (“thaw”) your credit. It is a little inconvenient if you are planning to apply for credit frequently. But it is the only way to be certain that you will not have your identity stolen.
I did this recently for myself. (I have previously done it for some family members.) I may need to apply for credit again, say to look for a better deal on car insurance (insurance companies routinely request your credit report before proving a premium quote), but at that time I will thaw my credit. Given this monstrous breach and the lack of accountability shown by Equifax, I think this is the only real solution.
You will need to initiate the freeze at each of the three main reporting bureaus: Equifax, Experian and Transunion. It only takes a few minutes online at each website. Depending on what state you live in, you may have to pay a small fee. Here is state-by-state detail on the cost.