With an increasing reliance on technology, protecting your identity is harder than ever. Hackers and sophisticated cybercriminals have been able to repeatedly access private data. Most recently, the major credit reporting agency Equifax saw a security breach that affected over 145 million people.
In response to these high-profile data breaches, credit-monitoring site Credit Karma announced the launch of a free identity protection service.
“Credit Karma can now alert you as soon as possible if you’ve been affected by a data breach and provide next steps you can consider to help secure your information,” said Adam Boender, product manager, in a blog post. “If you are involved in a breach, the sooner you know and can take action, the better.”
Regardless if you were affected by the Equifax data breach, signing up for ID monitoring is a smart idea. Whether you recently lost your wallet or do a lot of online shopping, using these services can prevent serious damage to your credit.
Here’s what you need to know about the new Credit Karma identity protection service and how to enroll.
What do identity protection services do?
Credit Karma is well known for its free credit report information. But now, it’s also the first company to offer a free identity theft protection service. The system will keep a tab on data breaches and monitor your accounts for fraudulent activity.
Identity monitoring services help you find out when your information has been compromised, so you can take action right away. The faster you react, the more likely you are to prevent fraudsters from opening accounts in your name.
Services like Credit Karma’s scan the internet for major data breaches and flags when you might be affected by one. They also review your current accounts, such as your credit cards or loans, for suspicious activity. If unusual purchases are made halfway across the country, for example, these services will send you an alert.
Identity protection services also recommend next steps. If you’re involved in a data breach, the identity monitoring service will advise you to change your passwords or close an account.
Many services can help you through the repair process if your identity was stolen, as well. They might help you in setting up credit freezes or notifying the IRS that your identity was stolen so a fraudulent tax return can’t be submitted in your name.
Although Credit Karma hasn’t added that kind of functionality yet, the new platform is still in its early stages.
“And this is just the start,” said Boender. “In the coming months, we will continue to add more functionality, including dark web monitoring, as well as ID recovery guidance if your identity has been stolen.”
Who is eligible for the free service?
Credit Karma’s service is free and available to anyone in the U.S. There are no fees or income restrictions.
To sign up, you just need to sign up for a free Credit Karma account. Once you have an account and log in, hover over “Resources” in the top toolbar, then click “Identity Monitoring” from the drop-down menu.
The service will immediately provide you with information about data breaches that might impact you.
Do I really need identity protection?
If you haven’t been affected by a data breach, it’s easy to have a false sense of security. But a single hacker can steal your identity, take out loans in your name, and ruin your credit.
Signing up for identity protection is a smart way to keep your information safe. And, with Credit Karma’s new service, there’s no need to spend any money; you can get ID monitoring for free.
Already dealing with identity theft? Find out how to place a fraud alert to protect yourself.
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