Identity theft is scary business, for sure. But it's a threat that seems a whole lot less likely once you sign up for ProtectMyID, an online identity theft protection service that comes from Experian, a trusted credit-reporting company. ProtectMyID is not cheap though, as it costs $16 per month for regular monitoring.
To sign up for ProtectMyID.com, you need to provide some basic information about yourself, including your address and social security number. It then begins protecting your identity by monitoring the use of your social security number, certain credit accounts, and address. All of the information you need to get started is presented in ProtectMyID's neatly-organized dashboard, which easy enough to browse, but slightly text-heavy.
ProtectMyID offers three different "Surveillance Alerts": Internet Scan, Change of Address Alerts, and Credit Alerts. The Internet Scan feature monitors what Experian calls "a vast number of online sources" where compromised credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers, and other personal data is found, traded or sold. To activate this protection, you need to manually add the cards you'd like protected, and Experian limits you to three. If you have more cards than that, you're out of luck, unfortunately.
The Credit Alerts feature monitors your credit report (from all three leading reporting bureaus) for what it calls "leading indicators of identity theft," which include new loans and accounts. The Change of Address alerts, meanwhile, monitors address changes that affect your credit accounts. If any alerts are raised, ProtectMyID will alert you via text message or email. Both of these are more comprehensive than the Internet Scan feature.
ProtectMyID also includes a nice feature called Lost Wallet, which will likely prove a lifesaver if your wallet disappears. You can enter the details of your medical and debit cards, and if your wallet is ever lost, ProtectMyID's Identity Theft Resolution Agents will help you cancel these cards. It also helps with your credit cards, too, but you do not need to enter that info manually, as it obtains it directly from your credit report.
And if you want to view your credit report, ProtectMyID helps you there, too. When you sign up for the service, you get a free copy of your Experian credit report; if you'd like to see the version that includes your credit score, or your credit reports from other agencies, ProtectMyID offers them to you at discounted rates.
ProtectMyID isn't perfect. It can be slightly overwhelming at times, as it throws a lot of information at you, and it's not always easy to understand the subtle differences between its various features, like Credit Alerts and Internet Scan. I also wish the Internet Scan let you monitor more than three credit cards. But for anyone who's concerned about protecting their identity, ProtectMyID will provide plenty of reassurance.
Note: The Download button on the Product Information page takes you to the vendor's site, where you can use the latest version of this Web-based software.
This story, "ProtectMyID from Experian helps guard against identity theft" was originally published by PCWorld.