It seems that everyone has heard of identity theft, yet many people still have questions about it. Here are a couple of the most commonly asked questions.
• How much of a problem is identity theft and how long does it take to recover?
Each year for the past several years, the Federal Trade Commission has listed identity theft as its No. 1 complaint. Victim losses are somewhere in the neighborhood of about $1.1 billion a year. And the FTC estimates the average victim spends about 170 to 300 hours working toward recovering after an identity theft.
• Should I sign up for identity theft protection?
Some would say you can do the things yourself that you would pay an identity theft protection service to do, but the fact of the matter is that most people don't take the time to do those things. True, you can get a free copy of your credit report each year, but most people don't. And most just glance at their credit card statements, and are less than careful with their personal information online.
The bottom line is simply this – protecting your information isn't rocket science. The trick is finding the time to do so, and then knowing what to do. If you aren't willing to spend the time yourself, then it's worth it to spend the money to pay someone else to do it for you. But be sure you research the identity theft protection services carefully, and make sure you know what you're getting for your money. There are things you can do on your own, but you can't watch your personal information online 24/7 – so it would be smart to find someone who can.