What is identity theft and why should I be concerned about it?
Identity theft happens when personal information such as your name, social security number, or date of birth are used by thieves without your knowledge to commit fraudulent activity. Identity theft continues to be one of the fastest growing crimes in America, affecting over 15 million people per year. Due to recent data breaches, such as Equifax, Yahoo, eBay, Target, Home Depot and the Federal Government breach at OPM (Office of Personnel Management), thieves already have hundreds of millions of Americans’ records containing sensitive personal and financial information. If you become a victim of identity theft it can be very costly. In addition to financial loss, it could take you hundreds of hours to restore and recover your identity.
How do thieves get my identity?
Identity theft starts with the misuse of your personally identifying information, such as your name and Social Security number, credit card numbers, or other financial account information. For identity thieves, this information is as good as gold. In addition to the people you know or do business with that could have access to your personal information, skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information.
- Data Breaches. Over 200 million people have had their identities compromised in a corporate data breach since 2005. There is no way to prevent this event from happening.
- Old-Fashioned Stealing. They steal wallets and purses, mail (including bank and credit card statements), pre-approved credit offers, and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access to your information.
- Skimming. They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.
- Phishing. They pretend to be financial institutions or companies that you do business with and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.
- Changing Your Address. They divert your mail to another location by completing a change of address form.
What do thieves do with a stolen identity?
Once identity thieves have your personal information they use it in a variety of ways, including:
- New Account Fraud – new accounts, loans and other credit-related accounts are opened in your name
- Phone or Utilities Fraud - your name could be used for someone to get electricity, gas or cable TV
- Bank Fraud – counterfeit checks, bank accounts or loans can be created in your name
- Employment Fraud – your identity and good credentials could be used for someone else to get a job
- Government Documents – someone can get a driver’s license or official ID card, obtain government benefits or file a tax return using your name
- Medical ID Fraud – thieves can obtain medical benefits using your healthcare coverage and leave you with unpaid bills or inaccurate medical records that could pose a health risk to you at a later time
- Criminal Records – someone could give out your name and social security number when getting arrested
Is identity theft preventable?
Preventing identity theft is impossible since your personal information is on file with local, state and federal government entities, healthcare providers, financial institutions and businesses that you interact with. Also, despite claims to the contrary, no company can prevent all identity theft. But, with ReliaShield’s sophisticated monitoring and alerts, you may be able to prevent becoming a victim, or stop identity theft shortly after it begins to minimize the severity of the damage. Additionally, if you do become a victim, ReliaShield’s team of recovery specialists will take over all of the work to restore your identity. Lastly, you’ll have peace of mind with ReliaShield’s $1 million stolen funds and reimbursement coverage.
Do credit monitoring programs protect me against identity theft?
Credit monitoring is only a small piece of an effective identity theft plan. While it does provide limited assistance in discovering identity theft, it is approximated that only 21% of identity theft events are discovered with credit monitoring - leaving the other 79% undetected. Thieves are using your personal information to gain employment, receive medical benefits, set up utilities, file fake tax returns, and even commit crimes in your name. None of these events will ever appear on a credit report. Also, credit monitoring alone provides no assistance, restoration, or stolen funds and reimbursement protection when a theft event does occur.
Do fraud alerts or credit freezes protect me against identity theft?
Fraud alerts and credit freezes can make it more difficult for thieves to open more accounts in your name, but they generally focus only on credit-related financial fraud which represents less than half of all occurrences of identity theft. Thieves are using your personal information to gain access to your bank and investment accounts, gain employment, receive medical benefits, file fake tax returns and even commit crimes in your name. None of these events will ever appear on a credit report. Also, fraud alerts and credit freezes alone provides no assistance, restoration, or reimbursement when a theft event does occur.
Does my homeowners policy cover identity theft?
Many insurance companies offer an endorsement or rider to their standard policy that allows identity theft protection to be added in a very limited way. These policies typically focus strictly on reimbursing the expenses you incur and do not address the true risk of ID theft. Some plans will provide limited recovery assistance consisting of an information packet that includes phone numbers to the credit bureaus, IRS, Social Security Administration, etc. In the end, you will likely need to take on all the responsibility and frustration of restoring your identity, and dealing with all of the legal, financial and other personal challenges.
Why should I use ReliaShield instead of one of your competitors?
We believe ReliaShield is the smart and affordable solution to identity theft protection for several reasons:
- First, ReliaShield offers 3 choices of sophisticated protection to meet everyone’s needs.
- Second, our plans cost considerably less than most of our competitors’ comparable plans.
- Third, we cover children for free when you subscribe to our family plan. In comparison, our main competitor charges $5.99 per covered child.
- Fourth, we have a 100% recovery success rate. Every one of our customers who has been a victim of ID theft has had their identity and credit history fully restored.
- Last, but not least, we provide our customers with excellent customer service. Our company, including our customer service team, is all US-based. Additionally, we are unique in that we are an employee-owned company, and we take pride in how we care for our customers. When you are speaking to one of our employees, you are also speaking to an owner of the business!
What happens after I enroll in a ReliaShield identity theft protection plan?
Once you enroll in a ReliaShield identity theft protection plan, you will have access to reports associated with your plan; you will receive notifications and alerts when we detect changes to your personal information; you will be notified of major data breaches; you will receive reminders to obtain your free credit reports; you will be fully supported by our identity theft recovery team if you do become a victim; you will have $1 million in stolen funds and personal expense reimbursement coverage.
Can I still become a victim of identity theft even if I am a client of ReliaShield?
While we provide a comprehensive approach to identity theft protection for our members, no ID theft protection service can prevent all instances of identity theft. Data breaches and the internet make information more accessible than ever, which is why it is so important to have a plan from ReliaShield that (i) monitors your personal information and alerts you to changes, (ii) offers fully managed recovery services, and (iii) provides a $1 million stolen funds and reimbursement benefit.
Why do I need to cover my family for identity theft?
Every person with a valid social security number is at risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. Children are oftentimes targeted by identity thieves since they don't detect identity theft until they become adults and apply for credit or a student loan. With a ReliaShield family plan, your spouse and all of your dependent children under the age of 18 will be protected from identity theft.
What is the cancellation policy?
You can cancel your subscription at any time.
If you are paying monthly and cancel your subscription then it will not renew on your next billing date, but your protection will continue for the remaining days in your existing monthly term. There are no refunds. For example, if you were billed on January 1st for coverage and you cancel on January 16th then your coverage will continue through January 31st and you will no longer be billed for additional monthly terms.
If you are paying annually and cancel your subscription then you will receive a pro-rated refund for any unused membership months remaining in your term. For example, if you were billed on January 1st for coverage and you cancel on March 16th then your coverage will continue through March 31st and you will receive a refund for 9 months of unused coverage.
Does ReliaShield need my social security number?
We do not obtain your social security number when you enroll in our service, and you are not required to provide one later on. However, once you are enrolled in our service, we strongly encourage you to complete your account profile which does have a field for your social security number. The reason this is important is because we can monitor your social security number to detect if thieves have obtained it or if they are using it.
How does ReliaShield safeguard my personal information?
We use the latest security framework and encryption technology to protect your data. We use the same level of sophisticated technology that most banks use to keep your data safe.
Do you cover 401k or investment accounts?
Yes, if you have money stolen from your 401K or investment accounts, you are covered up to $1 million dollars under our $1 million dollar stolen funds and reimbursement policy.
If I subscribe to a family plan will my spouse have their own log-in credentials?
Yes, they will receive an email to setup their own account so that we can separately monitor both of your accounts.
If I become a victim, what does ReliaShield do? If you become a victim of identity theft, you will be assigned an expert recovery specialist who will work with you and for you to do everything necessary to fully restore your identity. We have a 100% recovery success rate. Additionally, your recovery specialist will make sure that you are not held liable for any fraudulent financial transactions that have taken place in your name; and they will ensure that your credit is restored to its prior condition before the fraudulent event. Additionally, all our plans include $1 million dollars in stolen funds and reimbursement benefits.
I’m covered for free under a plan that I was enrolled in during a recent data breach. Why do I need a plan from ReliaShield?
Some of the free coverage that data breach victims receive has very limited benefits. For example, some plans do not offer any form of monitoring and alerts, and they also have low coverage amounts for stolen funds and personal expense reimbursement. Additionally, many of these plans expire after one year. ReliaShield offers comprehensive protection and it lasts as long as you maintain your subscription.
Can your program be offered to a group such as an employer or large association?
Yes! Many employers and associations today recognize the growing threat of identity theft and understand the value of incorporating identity theft protection into their employee or membership benefits package. Also, some businesses choose to offer identity theft protection to their customers as a way to set themselves apart from their competitors and increase customer loyalty. ReliaShield works with businesses and associations of all sizes nationwide and has the flexibility to offer group discounts and a simplified enrollment process.