(CBS) — There’s car insurance in case of an accident and home insurance in case of a fire. Now, add identity theft insurance, in case you’re the next victim.
As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, it’s among options consumers are considering to avoid the financial and emotional pain of ID theft.
Russell Talbott lost $2,000 to identity thieves who managed to access his debit card and drain his checking account.
“It literally is horrible because you work so hard for your money, so hard for your money, and somebody can take it like that,” he says.
There’s a good chance you know someone just like Talbott because ID theft seems to happen every day.
Last year, there were 614 data breaches, putting nearly 92 million people at risk. The type of information tapped includes everything from home phone numbers and addresses to Social Security numbers.
“It’s only a matter of time until a criminal gets around to using your identity fraudulently,” ID theft expert Denis Kelly warns.
Here are some things you can do to protect yourself for free:
–Check your bank accounts online or through a mobile app to monitor your checking and credit accounts daily.
–Every 90 days, place a fraud alert with the credit bureaus to make it difficult for someone to open up credit in your name.
Kelly also suggests adding an extra layer of security at your financial institution.
“If you change your address, if you change your maximum credit line, any information – you can request that you as a customer provide a PIN,” he says.
Doing it yourself takes time. If you don’t think you’re up to the task, there are other options.
For example: ID theft insurance.
“You buy it for the peace of mind,” State Farm agent Kimberly Danlow says.
For $25 a year at State Farm you can get “ID restoration coverage.” If you should ever become a victim of ID theft, counselors are available to help.
Danlow adds: “They know exactly who to contact, how to contact them, what information they need. They will help you write letters. They will be with you every step of the way while you get your identify back.”
For $10 to $20 a month, numerous companies promise email or text alerts through their ID protection services in case someone tries to use your credit card. They scan public records for abuse of your personal information, check the black market to see if your credit card is up for sale or train you how to protect yourself.
Talbott pays $240 a year, money, he says, that is “beyond well spent.”
Experts say no plan against identity theft is 100 percent foolproof. But you can significantly decrease your chance of becoming a victim if you pay attention to your most precious commodity: your Social Security number.
Only give it to entities that provide you income, credit and federal or state benefits. Everyone else is off the list.