Approximately 15 million Americans in the U.S. have their identities used fraudulently each year with financial losses totaling near $50 billion.
Close to 100 million additional are at risk for having their personal identifying information stolen placed when records maintained in government and corporate databases are lost or stolen.
These alarming statistics demonstrate identity theft may be the most frequent, costly and pervasive crime in the United States.
The ways thieves steal information has become sophisticated. They can read “noise” waves and intercept data with ATM skimmers, or infiltrate peer-to-peer networks like music sites. Other criminals target consumers with phishing (by email), SMSishing (by text) or Vishing (by voicemail).
It’s not all rocket science, though. Many old-school techniques still work: dumpster diving, wallet theft, snail mail swiping, someone looking over your shoulder at a device, collecting credit card numbers on the phone or online scams that retrieve your data.
Unfortunately, criminals are adept at cracking codes, creating viruses and weaseling their way into improperly secured networks at work, school, banks and anywhere else that involves a computer.
People can only go so far to protect themselves, and, unfortunately even the most savvy IT professional in the world isn’t capable of building an impenetrable fortress.
As recently as five years ago, very few companies offered services and products specifically designed to protect consumers from identity theft or, if victimized, to assist them in recovering from the crime.
Today, dozens of companies offer a range of services from credit monitoring, to the placement of fraud alerts, to opt-out services, to ID theft insurance and recovery services.
Here’s a look at three such service companies: