If you haven't heard, T-Mobile has been hacked again. While it seems like this is becoming a common occurrence for the company, this one is more severe because it likely involves personal and identifiable information, including government identification and social security numbers. This, combined with your date of birth and address, which are both also included in the data set, could easily be used to steal your identity. Because of this T-Mobile has provided McAfee ID Theft Protection Service for 2 years. However, this might not be enough protection for those who are overly fearful of their identity information. Here's what else you might want to look into as additional protection.
Many banks offer a collection of perks that customers don't know about. Among those perks can be credit protection. For example, Chase offers customers a feature called Credit Journey. In this suite of tools, you can monitor new activity on your credit report, including attempts to open a new line of credit, lease a car, take out a loan, and more. The service also offers identity theft protection, offering dark web surveillance, data breach monitoring, and SSN tracking.
Chase is not the only bank to offer these types of services to its customers. As a free service, already bundled into the offerings of your bank account, you should have this turned on anyway. Especially when combined with services like the McAfee ID Theft Protection Service offered by T-Mobile, it will increase the chances of catching an issue.
Additional Identity Protection Services
If your bank doesn't offer free credit and you feel you still need additional protection above the McAfee ID Theft Protection Service, there are a whole collection of additional services that are available. We've compiled a short list of some of the top services.
We probably all remember the wonderful commercials where the founder of LifeLock traveled around in a truck with his name and social security number on the side to show how well the service worked. Well, after a number of successful identity theft incidents against him, he sold the company to Symantec, which put it under the Norton brand. While being the best-known service in the industry, the service ranges from $10 to $30 per month, depending on the features you are looking for.
LifeLock also offers a pair of family plans: one for two adults and one for two adults and up to five children. For the two adults, there isa decent discount, but it gets even better when the kids are included. The top-tier plan is less than double the price of a single person and covers up to 7 people.
Another option is Identity Guard. This service is less popular, but is good enough to have a review quote from our friends at Tom's Guide on their website. The monthly price can be slightly lower than LifeLock, coming in at $9 for the basic plan, going up to the same $30 for the top tier plan.
Identity Guard also offers a family plan, and it covers a surprisingly good amount of people. In fact, it covers all adults and children within a single household. Interestingly, the price for a whole family is just barely more than the price of an individual, making it a pretty good deal, assuming the service works well (which it seems it would with the Tom's Guide comment).
There are other services, whose prices and offerings vary.
- IdentityForce ($23.99 individual, $35.90 family)
- Experian IdentityWorks ($9.99 - $19.99 individual, $19.99 - $29.99 family)
- Zander Insurance Identity Theft Protection ($6.75 - $9.99 individual, $12.90 - $19.49 family)
- IdentityIQ ($9.99 - $29.99 individual)
Your credit identity is not all that is at risk here. Many people use the same email address and password for multiple services, as well as reusing PINs. If that data has been exposed on your account, then you'll need to protect your accounts on everything from banks to social media.
Passwords and PINs
If you reuse your passwords and PINs, after a breach is the perfect time to change them. While the best security comes from unique passwords for every service, we know that not everyone is capable of doing this. Many security experts have suggested having a three-tier password system: one for things that don't really matter, like social media; one for medium security services, like your utilities; and one for high security services, like your bank.
Something similar should go for PINs. You should absolutely not use the same PIN for all services. Your mobile carrier should have a different PIN from your debit card, and both should be different from your computer and door lock (assuming you had a PIN door lock). Also, try to avoid using things that would be easy to guess form other leaked data, such as date of birth for you or other family members.
Two-Factor Authentication (2FA)
Another easy way to protect your accounts is to turn on two-factor authentication. This requires not only some information, but also some device. Many services offer the ability to login using your username and password, plus a code sent to your cell phone. This requires that a hacker not only have access to your information, but also have access to the text messages on your phone.
Some services offer an additional level of 2FA, using a security key like a YubiKey. This can also add an additional level of security, as it can require biometrics. So, in addition to the information and the hardware, it would also require your finger. Despite what you see on The Blacklist, hackers are unlikely to try and steal you finger to access your bank account.
As you can see, there are many identity protection services available. Most of them include some type of identity monitoring service, identity theft insurance (debt relief), and identity recovery assistance if your identity is stolen. The prices obviously vary widely on these plans, but it's best to see what works for you and the amount you're willing to pay in order to prevent identity fraud. Additionally, you can do things in order to prevent additional account issues, like changing your password, account PINs, and adding two-factor authentication.