Some security experts say it isn't a matter of IF you will become the victim of identity theft. It's only a matter of WHEN.
District resident Julie Herron had her identity stolen months ago and she's still only guessing how her information was compromised. "To this day, I don't really know what happened. I suspect, someone got ahold of a piece of paper from my garbage, a piece of mail with my name, my address, my social on it, something like that," says Herron."
There were three hard inquiries made to open credit cards in Herron's name, one successfully. Herron says, "It was an $1,800 line of credit that was opened in my name and bought some giant computer monitor with that. And it had a shipping address and everything."
Identity theft is on its way to becoming the most prevalent form of property crime in the country, at a big cost to the victims. Levyti Consulting CPA Ebong Eka says, "It can be really bad. It can actually detrimentally lower your credit score so you can't qualify for anything, loans or otherwise."
Herron already shreds her personal documents and she even has credit monitoring. That's how she knew they was a problem. She says, "I pay for FreeCreditScore.com. It's about $14 a month. They send you a monthly report. It lists things like alerts on identity use and if someone tries to open an account in your name."
Consumers have a lot of other options when it comes to ID-theft monitoring programs. Kiplinger's Personal Finance reports that many basic services will charge you $10 a month for help canceling credit cards if they are stolen. Victim assistance experts can be a real help because they know the ins and outs of the system. ITAC Sentinel also monitors your credit activity every day for signs of trouble. If you are willing to spend more, for $25 a month you can get a lot of identity protection. Identity Guard monitors your activity with all three credit bureaus on a daily basis. It also tracks your personal information online such as the use of your name and social security number and monitors any activity concerning you children's social security numbers. Most companies offer their services at a discount if you sign up for an annual service.
It took Herron around 40 man hours of time filing reports with the police department and Federal Trade Commission, as well as making phone calls to get most of her identity theft issues resolved.