In 2013, an estimated 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft. Like so many others, Charlie knew identity theft was a major concern in the modern world, but never fully considered the damage it could potentially cause until it hit close to home.
Charlie’s close friend Stephen had his identity stolen by a cyber criminal in 2013. Stephen had been looking into buying a condo, but kept failing credit checks after submitting applications. This confused Stephen, because last time he had checked he had excellent credit history. After investigating the matter further, he found out there were multiple credit cards and personal loans taken out in his name without his knowledge or consent. In total, the thief had racked up over $35,000 in unpaid debt in just four months.
Charlie watched as Stephen spent almost a year trying to reclaim his identity and repair his credit (his score dropped nearly 200 points). After investing hundreds of hours into resolving the crisis, Stephen was able to get most of the debt taken off his record. However, he was still left with about $6,000 he was responsible for paying, and his credit score took a permanent ding even after reclaiming his identity. Instead of being able to buy the condo he was hoping for, he ending up having to postpone his purchase and spend a large portion of his savings on correcting the problems caused by the identity theft. After all was said and done, Stephen claimed that 2013 was, “the worst and most stressful year of my entire life thus far.”
After seeing what Stephen went through, Charlie tried to monitor his accounts and files on his own, but found it hard to complete regularly. After struggling for a few months trying to do it all himself, he finally decided to hire an identity protection company to do it for him. Within weeks of initiating service, the company alerted Charlie that his information was available on the black market. Charlie and the identity theft protection company worked fast to put safeguards in place. They initiated a credit freeze on his reports, changed his bank account and issued new cards, and reassured Charlie that trained specialists are available to help him if his identity is compromised by the data breach. As a result of early warnings and fast action, Charlie’s identity was secured and no harm was done.
Today, Charlie is still using the same identity theft protection company with no complaints. After hearing Charlie praise their services, Stephen decided to hire the company as well. He is now successfully rebuilding his financial reputation with help from their trained specialists, and is hoping to purchase a condo within the next year. While you can successfully monitor identity theft on your own, it only works if you do it regularly. Remember, nobody can prevent your identity from being stolen, but identity theft protection companies exist to relieve people of the burden of constant monitoring. Should you ever find yourself in Stephen’s position, it would be reassuring to know you have somebody on your side.