Is identity theft protection a do-it-yourself task?

In today’s economic environment, “do it yourself” has become a mantra for saving money. If people have the necessary expertise and the time to complete the task, it can be a sure way to get it done for less.

How much skill do you have? How much time do you need?

The key to doing effective identity theft protection on your own is to understand the complexity of the task, the knowledge needed to do it correctly and the amount of time you can put into it.

First, there are seemingly endless outlets for identity thieves to get at your information: shopping online, email, utility services, bank accounts, mortgages and auto loans, smartphones and social media are just some of the access points to your private information. With all these potential touch points, monitoring the use of your personal information and credit can be quite time consuming. You’ll also need to factor the additional time and cost you’ll need to invest should you become a victim.

To mow the lawn you need a lawnmower. To protect your identity you need…

If you’re thinking of protecting your identity yourself, without the help of an identity protection service, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you willing to do the planning and take the time necessary to protect yourself?
  • Will you check your credit report every 30 days and continue to apply fraud alerts on your report on an ongoing basis?
  • Will you remove your name from marketing lists?
  • Will you opt-out of pre-approved credit lists?
  • Will you contact your credit card companies and find out if they share your information with partners and affiliates—and stop it if they do?
  • Do you understand website privacy policies?
  • Do you use and update your computer’s anti-virus software and firewall?
  • Do you use secure passwords and change them quarterly?
  • Do you know what to do, who to call and who to hire to help clear your name if you become a victim of identity theft?

So, is monitoring and protecting your family from identity theft a do-it-yourself project? It can be if you have the skill, willingness and amount of time required to stay on top of it.

Federal Trade Commission. “Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book For
January – December 2011.” February 2012.

Javelin Strategy & Research. "2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming
the New Fraud Frontier." February 2012.