If you’ve seen the recent identity theft statistics, you may be concerned about the security of your private information. Staying safe can be challenging without help, so you may ask, “Is identity theft protection worth it?”
The answer depends on multiple factors, which are outlined in this article. You’ll learn how to determine if investing in identity monitoring services pays off and what you get for your money. We’ll also discuss child identity theft as a particularly concerning crime and help you see if your child can benefit from expert protection.
Why Is It Important To Have Identity Theft Protection?
It’s crucial to have at least some form of identity protection—regardless of whether you’ll safeguard your ID yourself or enroll in a service. Over 40 million Americans suffered the consequences of identity theft in 2022, with the total loss estimated at around $43 billion dollars.
This is all the proof you need that ID security should be taken seriously. Criminals have gotten disturbingly skilled at stealing personally identifiable information (PII), especially in today’s online world, where so much sensitive data is readily available. Now the question is—can you safeguard your identity without paying for identity protection services?
Should You Get Identity Theft Protection or Secure Your PII on Your Own?
To answer this question, we need to look at three factors:
- The work it takes to protect your identity single-handedly
- Benefits and drawbacks of paid identity protection services
- Your individual risk of falling victim to identity fraud
Can You Protect Your Identity Without a Paid Service?
It’s technically possible to reduce the risk of identity theft by following the right safety practices. In a nutshell, identity theft protection breaks down into two categories:
|Monitoring||You should monitor your PII and sensitive documents like your government-issued ID, Social Security card, and all other documentation someone could abuse|
|Reporting||If you notice any unusual activity, you need to report it to the relevant authority immediately so that they can investigate the matter and determine if there’s any abuse of your PII|
The above tasks sound simple enough at first glance, but they’re quite challenging when you get into the details. An average person is far too busy to constantly monitor their identity, as doing so means you need to stay on high alert at all times and go through various procedures, such as the following:
- Checking public records for signs of potential PII misuse
- Contacting the IRS regularly to confirm there hasn’t been any tax fraud in your name
- Requesting a credit report from credit bureaus to check for fraudulent accounts
- Freezing your credit profile to ensure someone can’t open new accounts using your information (which also means you can’t obtain new loans until the freeze is active)
With a paid identity protection service, you get automated monitoring and will be alerted if anything out of the ordinary happens. If an issue is detected, their experienced staff can help you fix the issue, provided the service includes identity remediation. If the service includes identity protection insurance, your losses (if any) can be reimbursed.
Pros and Cons of Identity Theft Protection
Besides simplicity and peace of mind, the main benefit of signing up for paid identity protection is access to tools and services that are hardly accessible to an average person, most notably:
- Dark Web monitoring that tracks the trading of personal information
- Court and criminal records searching
- Sex offender tracking
The above methods can proactively detect signs of identity fraud before it escalates and does significant damage. Without them, it might be too late by the time you notice any red flags.
The best part is that such extensive monitoring is automated, so you don’t need to play an active role in the process.
As you can imagine, the biggest downside of comprehensive protection is the cost. Most services charge monthly fees, and an average person is already quite overwhelmed with subscriptions. Certain options are also quite expensive, so they can put a significant dent in your budget.
Who Needs Identity Protection the Most?
Not everyone has an equal need for an ID monitoring and protection service. The following three situations typically call for them due to an increased risk of theft:
- Having already been a victim of identity theft in the past
- Having highly valuable assets that fraudsters might target
- Being a parent of a minor, foster child, or special needs child who can’t protect their own identity
While all of the above risk factors are concerning, the last one deserves special attention because child identity theft has been running rampant for many years. If your child is a minor, they might be up to 51 times more likely to have their identity stolen than you.
Worse still, the type of identity theft targeting children is more elaborate than a typical scam aimed at adults. You should familiarize yourself with it to understand why a paid ID protection service is the safest option.
Why and How Children Fall Victim to Identity Theft
Fraudsters find children’s personal information highly appealing—especially their Social Security numbers (SSNs). This is because minors’ SSNs are often unused, which leaves them open to the creation of synthetic identities.
When someone creates a synthetic identity by combining a child’s SSN with fake information, they can use it to evade the law, scam lenders, and obtain government benefits in the child’s name.
Synthetic identity fraud is harder to detect than typical impersonation because it leaves fewer red flags. Parents are often unaware of the problem until their child receives a pre-approved credit card offer they couldn’t have applied for or correspondence from the IRS about tax issues.
There are numerous ways someone can obtain a child’s SSN or other information, especially since children often don’t understand the dangers of revealing it to strangers. That’s why you may need to put more effort into safeguarding your child’s PII than your own.
You should educate your child on the importance of ID security and safeguard all documents containing their sensitive information. Still, even this may not be enough in some cases—despite parents’ best efforts, one in 50 children falls victim to identity theft each year.
If you want to make sure your child doesn’t become a part of such grim statistics, FreeKick can help.
How FreeKick Safeguards Children’s Data
Powered by Austin Capital Bank, FreeKick combines a Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation-insured (FDIC-insured) deposit account with two groups of services:
- ID theft protection for children ages 0–25
- Credit building for children ages 14–25 and credit profile monitoring
Identity Theft Protection (Coming Soon)
Due to the importance of your child’s SSN, FreeKick pays special attention to its monitoring. The Social Security Number Trace service ongoingly tracks all names, aliases, and addresses associated with the SSN. This way, it helps stay ahead of true-name and synthetic identity theft.
Besides SSN monitoring, FreeKick provides various services that protect your child’s PII:
- Dark Web monitoring—As mentioned, tracking Dark Web activity is an effective way to detect signs of identity theft. FreeKick uses the CyberAgent surveillance system to monitor traffic related to the potential trading of your child’s information
- Full-service ID restoration—If your child’s identity is compromised, a certified restoration specialist will work on their behalf to restore it. They’ll investigate alerts and dispute fraudulent activity so that you don’t need to do it on your own
- ID Theft insurance—FreeKick offers a $1 million insurance covering ancillary restoration services in case of identity theft
- Neighborhood sex offender monitoring—Tracks sex offenders in your area to alert you if an offender registers under a different name using your address
All of the above services are available to minors (18 and under in most states). If your child is a legal adult, they’ll be covered by four additional security measures:
- Lost wallet monitoring—Safeguards important documents and provides professional support in reissuing them in case of theft or misplacement
- Change of address monitoring—Alerts you if your child’s mail is redirected through the USPS
- Payday loan monitoring—Provides an alert with a report if your child’s SSN is used to obtain payday loans
- Court records monitoring—Searches court records to detect unauthorized use of the child’s identity
Credit Profile Building and Monitoring
On top of protecting children’s information, FreeKick helps them get a significant head start in life through parent-sponsored credit building. You can improve your child’s creditworthiness and help them establish a solid credit profile that can save them over $200,000 in the future!
Here is how it works:
- Create an Account—Go to FreeKick.bank and select a plan based on a one-time FDIC-insured deposit
- Set It and Forget It—FreeKick builds 12 months of credit history for your child through a no-interest credit builder loan paid from the deposit
- Keep Growing—When the 12-month term ends, you can renew the account for another 12 months to further strengthen your child’s credit profile
Unlike most services, FreeKick doesn’t require monthly subscriptions—you can choose between three options:
|FDIC-Insured Deposit Amount||Cost|
If your child is a legal adult, FreeKick will also report their credit history to the three major consumer credit bureaus. A minor’s credit history can only be reported when they turn 18 (19 in Alabama), as credit bureaus only accept reporting for adults.
Regardless of the reporting time, your child’s credit profile will be monitored by FreeKick to help prevent ID theft and fraudulent accounts.
You can close your account at any point without penalties, but keep in mind the following:
- All monitoring services will immediately cease
- If your child is a minor at the time of closure, no credit can be reported on their behalf
Keep your child’s identity safe and help them secure a brighter future—sign up for FreeKick.