This post brought to you by LifeLock Linkedin. All opinions are 100% mine.
LifeLock on Linkedin It sucks to have a flat tire.
Driving down the road to wherever youʼre going, you feel it-that WHUP-WHUP-WHUP, you car jerks violently to one side, and you know youʼre going to be stuck there for a while. No problem, youʼve got a spare tire-but itʼs out of air. Apprehensively pulling out your phone, you come to the grim realization that youʼve never really thought about or planned this event-there is no Plan B or C, nothing to do but wait for someone to help you.
A dumb situation, right? Why are we talking about this? Pretend that car is your credit and bank accounts-your very identity, for all intents and purposes- and instead of a flat, someone is using your name and reputation for their own gain. What are they doing with that knowledge? I donʼt know, and neither do you.
Identity theft is a scary thing, and just like car problems, no one thinks it could ever happen to them. But it does, and the results add up:
- Households earning $100k + per year have the highest identity fraud rate at 7.4%
- The average cost per person of having identities stolen is $1,513
- 11.6 million adults were victims of identity fraud in 2011 and a total of $18 billion was lost.
$18 billion is a lot of money. And that’s just the upfront loss-the FTC estimates it takes between 170 and 300 hours of work trying to recover from identity theft as well as resolving any other problems incurred from the theft.
You can take may precautions yourself, of course- one of the most preached preventions is a strong password-but do you have a good enough one? If you don’t, you might be setting yourself up for real trouble:
If you have 6 characters in your password with no symbol, it only takes a professional. 000224 seconds to breach your account; however
If you have 10 characters and one symbol in your password, it takes up to 20 days for a professional to break in. ￼
Those statistics increase or decrease depending on How hack-friendly is your password?. as well as how often you change your passwords-you DO change them, don’t you? Smartphone fraud is on the rise as well. Apps like Pay with Square and Google Wallet are on the rise-weʼre using smartphones in droves. Fraudsters know this, too-over the past year:
- 6.6% of identity theft victims are smartphone owners.
- 6.8% of victims are social media users who click on the applications
- 8.2% of victims are social media users who have “checked in” using their smartphone GPS
- 10.1% of victims are LinkedIn users
Those numbers might not seem like much, until you factor in that Forrester recently reported that there will be 1 billion smartphone users by 2016- 6.6 percent is a lot of people. Fraud is a rising and increasingly profitable business, and their methods get more insidious every day. Are you doing enough to protect yourself and family from identity theft? ￼￼￼￼￼ Probably not. Itʼs a lot of work. However, professional fraud also means there are professional fraud fighters, chief and oldest of them is LifeLock on Linkedin Lifelockʼs core mission is protect against identity theft before it happens, which it does through five key services:
- Identity monitoring
- Threat scanning
- Identity theft response
- Credit score monitoring
- $1 million service guarantee
As well as these basic services, Lifelock now has an ultimate tier, which expands their capabilities to cover more of your financial life and protect it in much the same way as credit protection-helping to ensure no one but you can use your money or identity.
Identity and Credit Score Monitoring
Identity monitoring takes two forms-credit monitoring to make sure your score is as high as it can be, as well as making sure there are no mysterious credit accounts- and public records-making sure no one is using your name to commit crimes or other fraudulent acts. When you sign up for either of Lifelockʼs plans, they immediately contact all of the major credit bureaus for you, doing such things as removing your name from mailing lists and preapproved credit offers, as well as setting up fraud alerts with these bureaus, requiring them to call you if someone tries to open credit in your name. Lifelock also monitors how much you purchase-when I worked at the Apple Retail stores, whenever customers with Lifelock tried to purchase hardware over $1,200, Lifelock would promptly call them to verify itʼs them before allowing the purchase to go through-so if you sign up, do make sure to provide a number you can reached at most of the time. Thatʼs an annoyance to some, but itʼs peace of mind to others. LIfelock also emails you whenever your credit score changes, allowing you to keep up to date about any changes or charges that you might not be aware of.
Lifelock Ultimate is a new tier of service, extending credit protection to other areas, including checking and savings account protection.
As well as monitoring your personal credit score (or bank information with Ultimate), Lifelock also searches criminal websites for anyone selling your personal information. The ultimate tier also watches file sharing sites to respond to fraud attempts much more quickly.
The member dashboard also provides an identity exposure dashboard, leading us to-
Identity Theft Response
Lifelock is all about taking proactive measures to protect your identity, but what if something happens? Both versions directly contact you to correct a situation as soon as possible, including the type of situation and what can be done. One of their handiest services is wallet remediation, in which they help you contact your banks and credit card companies in the event you lose your wallet, regardless of if itʼs stolen or simply left at a bar somewhere. Lifelockʼs website did not comment specifically on what happens if you lose your phone, but with the growing amount of apps that enable you to use your phone as a wallet replacement, it would be great peace of mind to see a response to that as well.
$1 Million Service Guarantee￼
As mentioned above, it takes a lot of time and work to restore your identity once it gets stolen, and Lifelock has an answer to that, to the tune of $1 Million dollars on the table to help you restore your name if anything fraudulent happens while being a member. This guarantee, in the form of a zero deductible identity theft insurance policy, hires lawyers, investigators and other consultants to analyze the extent of your damage from fraud, as well as restoring your identity. It also pays for certain out of pocket expenses, including fraudulent withdrawals, lost wages, and legal costs.
As well as Lifelockʼs services, what makes them really stand out is the ease of their website. Almost any question you have about the service can be answered through exploring one of the tabs, or by contacting them through email or by phone.
Lifelock makes no bones about their services- you can find descriptions for their services, as well as credentials that help put to rest any doubts you might have. ￼￼
They also encourage educating yourself about the dangers and realities of identity theft- itʼs a multilayerd beast, and although thereʼs no en to the types and methods used, they help you learn about what kinds of thefts are common in your state, as well as where your state ranks in the national average. ￼￼
Enrollment is also easy, asking you to select a plan, as well as the same kind of questions youʼd be asked if you were applying for a credit card, which lets them immediately begin monitoring your credit.
At the end of the day, it really comes down to trust, and Lifelock helps establish that as soon as their site loads. A lot of fraud protection sites will make broad claims about what they can do, as well as how many customers they may have, but Lifelock provides facts and resources to convince you of that without making you feel like youʼre being harassed by a used car salesman.
Can you do a lot of what Lifelock provides by yourself? You could, but I doubt it would be as automatic and as thorough as their service.
We streamline a lot of things in our lives-we buy concert tickets and expect it in our inbox, we take photos without having to load film, we press a name and it calls them, we go to the doctor and donʼt have to worry about filing paperwork by ourselves. Isnʼt it time we automate protecting our financial future from folks who would use it for their own gain?