When Peanut Butter and Jelly Girl was just a baby, I put her down for a nap and tried to log into eBay where I was selling a few items. However, I couldn’t access my account. I had to request a phone call to my house so I could enter a special pin to show that this was indeed my account.
What I saw once I was finally able to log in confused me at first and then made me feel like I wanted to throw up. My stomach immediately went into knots and my chest tightened.
Someone had hacked my account and bought over $1,000 in merchandise, just since the night before when I last logged in!
I called eBay, and they immediately handled the situation. However, I realized how vulnerable all of my personal information was to identity theft.
Immediately I went into panic mode and wondered if my credit cards and online accounts were also vulnerable. They were, but luckily, my identity theft damage was just limited to eBay. However, I didn’t want to take any chances.
My first desire was to freeze my credit, which I eventually did. However, some people find this step a bit too radical. (If you freeze your credit, every time you apply for new credit or someone needs to access your credit report, you must first thaw your credit with a phone call. You then must select the number of days you want your credit to be thawed. In addition, you no longer get credit card offers in the mail.)
Before I took the radical step of freezing my credit, I chose to monitor my credit with LifeLock.
LifeLock offers many important services including identity theft detection and alerts, lost wallet protection, address change verification (which protects you so thieves can’t change your address and divert your mail to them), black market website surveillance, reduced pre-approved credit card offers, and award winning member service.
Freezing your credit is a radical step that many feel is unnecessary and inconvenient. Others argue that you can monitor your own credit simply by ordering a free credit report once a year. While ordering your free credit report is important, what happens if you get your free credit report in January, and thieves steal your information in March? They’ll have 10 months to do damage before you learn what’s happened when you order your next free credit report.
If you don’t want to freeze your credit, the next best way is to protect yourself with a service like LifeLock. You’ll learn immediately if your identity has been stolen or compromised, and that can mean the difference between an easy clean up like I had with eBay, or a long, drawn out process of proving that you didn’t charge everything the thieves did.
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