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What is Identity Monitoring?

Article Details
  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 08 October 2018
  • Copyright Protected:
    2003-2018
    Conjecture Corporation
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Identity monitoring is a process designed to help minimize the opportunity for identity theft to occur. The aim of this type of activity is to stop the process of identify theft as quickly as suspicious activity becomes evident. Today, there are a number of identity theft monitoring services that claim to protect not only the personal identity of an individual, but also prevent credit theft.

There are several advantages to effective identity monitoring. One of the key benefits has to do with protecting the good name of the individual. When identity theft takes place, it is very easy for the imposter to commit crimes or other acts that damage the reputation of the true owner of the identity. In some cases, it can take years and a great deal of money to undo the damage.

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Another benefit to identity monitoring is preventing the creation of a number of fraudulent credit accounts. Assuming the individual whose identity is stolen has solid credit, the criminal will quickly open a number of credit accounts without the knowledge or authorization of the rightful owner of the identity. This can lead to the creation of a huge amount of debt that the individual only becomes aware of when creditors begin logging negative feedback that makes its way to credit reports, or when creditors begin to contact the individual for payment. As with damage to the reputation of the victim, it can take years to straighten out a complicated string of debts ran up due to identity theft.

Many people turn to services that offer identify monitoring programs. In theory, these programs help to monitor any unusual activity involving the client’s name or credit. When something suspicious is observed, the service contacts the client to ascertain if the actions are legitimate or are taking place without his or her knowledge and consent. Should the client not be the originator of the activity, the service takes steps to stop the transactions at once, effectively thwarting the attempt at identity and credit theft.

However, not everyone is convinced that identity monitoring services are particularly effective. While there are testimonials used in advertising for these services, there are also a number of former customers who had bad experiences with identity monitoring programs. Part of the ongoing problem is that services of this type are not equipped to monitor all types of fraudulent identity activity, which leaves clients vulnerable to at least a few common strategies employed in the task of identity theft.

As a general rule, individuals can practice effective identity monitoring by checking their credit reports regularly, and using online access to monitor activity on banking and credit card accounts. Consumers should also be very careful about giving out personal information such as birth dates, Social Security numbers, and other proprietary data that could be used in the process of identity theft. While somewhat time consuming, these simple monitoring practices can greatly limit the opportunity for identity theft and all the problems that go along with the theft.

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