Marriott International was the victim of one of the largest cyberattacks in history.
Over four years, hackers stole about 500 million records from Marriott’s Starwood Hotels reservation system.
According to Marriott, about 327 million of the accounts included passport details.
Hackers exposed the personal data of customers including their credit card numbers.
In 2020, two years after Marriott was first hacked, they fell victim again. Marriott said the addresses, account numbers, and other personal details of at least 5 million customers was stolen.
This was the second massive data breach in only two years for the company.
The company noticed an unexpected amount of guest information being accessed using the credentials of two employees.
Based on current trends (not surprisingly), ID theft will continue to skyrocket.
In 2019, there were more than 13 million identity fraud cases. In these cases, the victims ended up losing nearly $17 billion.
With some basic information your life could turn into a giant headache.
Once someone has your Social Security number and personal info, they can begin applying for loans.
But before you jump at getting an identity theft protection service, here are a few pros and cons to keep in mind.
Identity theft protection is perfect for alerting you to strange activity. This is the reason you want this type of service.
While it may not stop criminals, it should at least notify you of the activity.
Also, most ID protection services will alert you if you have fallen victim to a data breach.
So, you won’t have to do the searching on your own or wonder if your information was compromised.
ID theft protection companies do the leg work for you. That way you can respond appropriately if your data was compromised.
If you consider yourself high risk, these companies add another layer of protection.
The biggest drawback to ID protection services is that they can be expensive. Some can cost thousands of dollars each year.
Also, some of these companies don’t do consistent checks.
For example, the theft protection company might scan for your information once a month.
If they alert you to compromised data a month after it happened is that helpful?
Finally, many of the services these companies provide are things you can do on your own.
You can set up alerts with credit agencies and even freeze your credit reports. (If you don’t have a freeze on your credit report, please do this asap.)
This means no one can access your credit unless they have a PIN that was provided to you.
But if you consider yourself a high-risk target then spending money for a service might be worth the cost.
If you think they might be right for you, here are three services you may want to take a look at…
LifeLock is one of the most well-known ID theft protection companies, offering a wide range of protection services.
These services include stolen wallet protection, home title monitoring, and checking/savings account alerts.
LifeLock’s services range from $8.99 a month to $25.99 a month.
Reimbursement of $25,000 to $1 million is available, depending on the plan you purchase.
The $25.99-a-month plan monitors all three major credit bureaus, and you can pull credit reports once a year.
LifeLock includes credit alerts, dark web monitoring, and alerts on activity such as crimes committed in your name.
Complete ID is a service provided by Experian, one of the big three credit reporting agencies.
The service provides an annual credit report from the three agencies.
It also offers monthly credit scores and provides a graph so you can see how your score has changed.
It also monitors for unauthorized use of your Social Security number.
An added feature of Complete ID is neighborhood watch.
This feature provides details on crimes and sex offenders in your neighborhood.
Another feature Complete ID offers is $1 million in limited identity theft insurance.
The base price is $8.99 a month for basic service and $13.99 for premium access.
One catch… Complete ID is for Costco customers, so it does require a Costco membership.
ID Watchdog sets itself apart because they help you recover after you’ve been a victim of identity theft.
The company offers a $1 million theft insurance policy.
With the premium service, you can get a copy of your credit report once a year.
One drawback is that the company doesn’t specify how often it performs checks or monitors your data.
But they do check the dark web, public records, and subprime loan applications, as well as postal service change of address data.
In other words, it should prevent criminals from changing your address to steal your mail.
The basic plan is $14.95 a month, the premium version is $19.95 a month.
Having your identity stolen is disheartening. It’s an invasion of privacy that can take years to fix.
These services can help you avoid falling victim. But they also do things that many people can do on their own.
If you don’t want to spend the money, you can take it upon yourself to check your credit report and bank statements.
Also, place a freeze on your credit report with the three major credit bureaus.
And the federal government offers identity theft restoration assistance by going to IdentityTheft.gov.
At the end of the day, you need to choose what’s best for you…