Having a data breach of your own, personal information can be frustrating, even if it doesn’t have as big of an impact as a big corporate breach. So many companies have leaked credit card information and social security numbers that those types of information are basically public record by now (and probably shouldn’t be used for strong authentication). We should all probably be on the offensive against scammers that would open accounts in our name or conduct fraudulent activity posing as us.

A good way to do that—without spending too much time watching your credit report on your own—is with an Identity Protection Service, and today, we’ll show you a few features and services that keep you safe from these kinds of fraud. This blog post isn’t sponsored by any of the services discussed here, but it is a part of the personal cybersecurity world worth checking out if you haven’t already..

What is Identity Protection For?

You may remember a few years ago when a large telecom company leaked personally identifying information of millions of people. The social security numbers, addresses, and telephone numbers of millions of people became something of a product for sale on the dark web, where bad actors buy up identities from breaches like this one. Because of the nature of this information, it could be used to open new credit cards, bank accounts, payday loans, or investment accounts in someone else’s name. Once a bad actor does that, they can just treat the credit floated to them like cash until it’s gone, then walk away from the account for an unsuspecting person to deal with later—likely when they’re shopping for a major purchase, like a house or car.

Identity theft protection—offered by companies like Lifelock (Norton), McAfee+, Aura, and others—typically starts with monitoring and scanning of the internet for your personal information, as well as credit monitoring. If the service can find your identifying information out in the world, then that information has been breached, and they can let you know. Your information could be leaked by a company, or it might be from a large phishing operation, but show up when the service looks at the black market for identifying information. They also watch to see if new accounts spring up in your name and monitor transactions to make sure that they are really you.

Additional Features of Identity Protection

Most companies have software and service packages that go beyond these core services. Using an identity theft protection service often comes with new credit reports, sometimes even daily, from one or more of the credit bureaus. With Lifelock, for instance, you can see your credit score and report from Equifax every day (and the others on a monthly basis). If you are obsessed with your credit, this lets you monitor it without any side effects that may lower your score. Mobile apps for these services can give you better access to the credit bureaus—in addition to their protections—for putting freezes in place, or lifting them when you are shopping for something.

Companies who help protect your identity also know that you may need help with your device and network security, so they offer password managers and VPNs as part of the subscription. Using a password manager to keep your passwords strong and varied is fundamental to keeping your accounts secure, and makes changing them after a breach just a few clicks away. The VPNs offered by these companies can give you more security when on public or less-secured WiFi networks. While these two practices are basically necessary for your personal security, getting them all from one service can help simplify your authentication routines and help you to not cut corners when it comes to your information security.

-Written by Derek Jeppsen on Behalf of Sean Goss and Crown Computers Team