As you research Identity Theft, two terms are encountered frequently: 1) Identity Theft Protection, and 2) Credit Monitoring.
Many people assume these two terms mean the same thing and use them interchangeably. BUT, they are not the same, even though they are both designed to help defend against your becoming a victim of Identity Thieves.The primary difference between them is that one provides a more complete protection than the other.
Credit Monitoring is a service that only monitors your credit report for unusual activity. Generally this service is offered by the credit bureaus themselves, but individual companies can also offer the service. The way this program works is this: 1) You pay a fee to have somebody monitor your credit, and 2) When unusual activity is detected, you are sent an alert within 24 to 72 hours
Once you have been alerted, it is up to you:
- To check out the unusual activity,
- To determine what is going on,
- To ensure that the information is accurate, and
- To initiate any necessary action.
Identity Theft Protection is a service that does more than just monitor your credit, it prevents people from gaining access to your identity. With this type of program in place, the company providing this service will:
- Order your free credit reports for you on a scheduled basis, so you can see what is on your credit report,
- Notify you whenever there is any attempt to open credit or apply for services in your name,
- Remove your name from pre-approved credit mailings (which is another avenue that Identity Thieves use to open credit in your name),
- Repeat this process every year, so that you are fully protected.
Another difference between these two types of services is that with Identity Theft Protection, the goal of the program is to stop thieves before they access your information. With Credit Monitoring, you may already have become a victim of Identity Thieves before you are notified of the activity. Credit Monitoring programs expect you to do everything on your own; however, they will provide you with advice on where to start.
A significant advantage of Identity Theft Protection is that, if you do become a victim of identity thieves, you don't have to take care of everything by yourself. It can take many hours to correct Identity Theft problems by yourself, so the company will provide the people to help you fix the problems.