So, no I’m not click baiting you. I’m going to briefly outline the 3 reasons you need to get Identity Theft insurance. And why, if you don’t have it and why you should not wait to get it.
Obviously, that's one reason restated for dramatic effect. :)
But it's meant to emphasize the absolute travesty that this particular cyber attack/data security breach/whatever-you-want-to-call-it was and is.
You may or may not remember the announcement of the Equifax hack back in 2017.
Here’s the NYT article about it. I was both horrified and genuinely outraged.
“But what does this all mean to me?”, you may be asking. Your identity is likely in the hands of thieves.
It was very likely one of the 143,000 that lifted in this massive, unprecedented data breach of a major consumer credit reporting agency.
So, if they’re telling us the whole truth, at least 143,000 consumers' personal data was stolen from Equifax’s servers.
These identities are now readily available for criminals to use for their benefit and for your harm.
This means that, if your data was part of the breach (highly likely), your name, date of birth, social security number, drivers license number, address, bank accounts, medical history, employee accounts were all stolen by a person or group of people that, you can rest assured, are not out to make your life a richer, more effervescent bed of roses.
While you're letting that all sink in, I would just go ahead and assume yours was stolen in the breach. I can just about guarantee that it was. These things are ALWAYS worse than what is shared with the public.
And while you're processing all of that, let me tell you a little bit about my own identity theft nightmare from way back in 2011.
Identity theft happened to me and it can (and likely will) happen to you. Please prepare yourself for the likelihood.
In August of 2011 I received a rather ominous envelope from "The Georgia Tax Tribunal".
As if the sender's name wasn't alarming enough, the contents of the package were even more disturbing.
The enclosed letter informed me that I owed the State of Georgia over $3000 in "back taxes" due to something, something, late, something, something...
I honestly don't even remember the reason why.
I just remember immediately going into freakout mode. WHAT?!!! How in the world could I owe over $3000 in back taxes and why in the world would it be coming from a “TRIBUNAL”? "Am I going to be executed or something?", I remember thinking.
This began an 8 month nightmare that could have been SO much worse.
Because I had an ID theft insurance policy with an administrative/recovery clause, I was able to navigate with much confidence and clarity.
I’m going to highlight the importance of getting an ID theft policy with an administrative/recovery clause because of the time it will save you during the cleanup process.
I will also explain why an ID theft policy that only offers “credit monitoring” is not enough.
You see, almost all of the ID theft insurance policies I've seen have "monitoring" or some element of checking your credit bureau profiles (Equifax, TransUnion and Experian) for fraudulent activity.
While this is important, you can (and should) actually be doing this yourself using a free service like Personal Capital and/or Credit Sesame.
Just keep in mind that the REAL gold of an ID theft policy is the hours upon hours and headaches it will save you by having that administrative/recovery element in the policy.
Identity thieves will make a mess of your situation. You'll need a small team of people to help you make it right again.
An Administrative and/or Recovery clause in an ID theft policy means you'll have an actual team of folks at the insurance company that will do all the admin clean up for you when someone steals your identity and uses it for nefarious purposes like, filing a fraudulent tax return, opening a credit card or buying a car in your name.
And, this “clean up” involves hours upon hours of calling the credit bureaus, banks, creditors, government entities, etc. to take care of any malicious activity that has occurred and to help clear you of any potential liability (i.e. debts incurred, fraudulent taxes filed) incurred as a result of your compromised identity.
I'm speaking from experience when I tell you that an ID theft policy with a great admin recovery feature is worth its weight in gold during your ID theft nightmare and Identity Force is the best.
They literally saved me over 100 hours of lost time from work/life by coming along side me during this disaster!
So, to ensure you’re not completely hosed by the Equifax data breach and others’ data security ineptitudes go ahead and get a policy in place.
Yes, my ID theft debacle was terrible, but would have been MUCH worse had I not had an identity theft insurance policy in place.
I know, like, trust, use and recommend Identity Force as my identity theft insurance provider.
Here's a link to their program:
Like I mentioned before, Identity Force saved me more than 100 hours of "recovery" work when my identity was compromised. Again, the recovery work is really the most important element of the ID theft policy.
Whichever provider you choose for ID theft insurance, make sure that there is an "administrative" or "recovery" element to the policy.
This is important because with ID theft, you're rarely going to be on the hook for the charges a thief makes.
The real nightmare is always in the cleanup.
This entails calling all the credit rating agencies, dealing with taxing authorities, credit card companies, banks, etc.
The disruption to your life in the form of the hours you'll spend on the cleanup will be more than you can imagine.
The moral of the story: get an ID Theft insurance policy as soon as possible.
Don’t procrastinate on this. ID theft is real. It's not a scare tactic, it's just the truth. Identity Force is a great provider for you to consider.
Now that we've protected your identity, let's shift to your finances for a moment.
0. Stop All Retirement Investing (Until Step 4)2. Starter Emergency Fund of $10003. Eliminate Debts Smallest To Largest (a.k.a The Debt Snowball)4. Full Emergency Fund of 3-6+ Months’ Expenses5. Invest A Minimum of 15% Income Into Retirement Accounts (and increase savings rate to 50%+ if possible)6. College Funding (if applicable)7. Pay Off The Home Mortgage8. Build Wealth, Serve, Be Ridiculously Generous And Go FI (Financial Independence)!