In this era of digitized information, we hear about identity theft almost daily. Whether it’s malware infections or ransomware attacks, everyone’s on high alert for the new generation of criminals who hide behind screen and take much more than just your cash. Even the savviest might find the statistics shocking: each year, over a billion people worldwide fall prey to identity theft. One in four people in developed countries have experienced identity theft in some capacity.

I can’t claim to have experienced this misfortune, but something similar happened to me many years ago. A thief breached my credit card, charging me $3,800. Fortunately, my credit card company acted quickly and reversed the unauthorized charges almost immediately, saving my account. But while I only risked losing one credit card number, people whose identities are stolen often suffer the consequences for years, pouring countless hours and expenses into repairing the damaged credit that was no fault of their own. It’s mind-blowing and horrifying all at the same time.

Looking at this Internet Security Report from April 2017 reveals the sheer scale of cybercrime going on. From targeted attacks to extortion, the reality of how the underground economy can ruin someone’s life terrified me. I began to search for ways to prevent this from ever happening to me.

Once upon a time, years ago, the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—provided free monitoring on-request, and would even email or call you when applications were made in your name. Now they still offer the services, but have slapped a price tag on what they used to do for free. People who can’t afford their fees or simply don’t want to splurge on such a basic thing as keeping your credit safe now have to find better, cheaper alternatives.

After oodles of research, I found exactly that in Credit Sesame’s free credit monitoring service. Featured in the Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, NBC’s TODAY Show, CNN Money, and CNBC, Credit Sesame requires no credit card, no trials, and no commitments. They offer real-time alerts so that you’ll know immediately if an important change has been made to your TransUnion credit report. This allows you to move quickly and minimize any potential damage to your credit and finances.

In addition to all that, Credit Sesame comes with loads of added benefits. Not only will you be able to quickly locate and correct errors on your credit reports to keep your credit score up, but you’ll also be eligible for $50,000 of identity theft protection insurance. And all of this comes with no strings attached and a hassle-free sign-up.

Unlike the identity theft companies that offer plans up to $29.99 (perhaps to cover their nonstop TV advertisements, which seem to last for an eternity,) Credit Sesame offers three premium services: $9.95 a month, $15.95, then $19.95. But even after studying the options, we found the services they offered for free more than adequate. Anyone who’s interested should go ahead and pick whichever service they’re most comfortable with. Even without the bells and whistles offered by premium coverage, any protection is better than nothing at all.

Of course, no tool can truly prevent identity theft. Credit monitoring itself isn’t necessarily sensitive to whether something is malicious fraud, or just someone reordering their finances. Because of this, it’s best to keep your wits about you in this digital age. With all its benefits, Credit Sesame is definitely a step in the right direction.

 

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