Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

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Identity theft is a growing threat due to data breaches and hacking incidents on the rise. Due to this growing trend, identity theft protection is quickly becoming as important as home or auto coverage. With 12.7 million US adults falling victim to identity theft in 2014, you can be at risk.1

Identity theft has grown to more than just using someone’s cred it card or taking out credit cards in someone’s name. Criminals may use the stolen identity to obtain a driver’ s license and other documents and to commit fraud. In these cases, sorting out the situation requires much more than simply canceling credit cards and opening new accounts.

Victims of ID theft sometimes spend hundreds of hours trying to resolve problems that arise when their name, Social Security number, credit card numbers and other financial information are used to commit fraud. Lasting effects for victims of identity theft include debt collector calls, denial on new credit requests, closed credit cards, loan denial, utilities being cut off, criminal investigation or civil suit and difficulties obtaining or accessing bank accounts.

Steps to Protect Yourself

Remove risky items from your wallet – Social Security card; reminders noting PINs or passwords for bank cards or online accounts; blank checks; and spare keys for your home or car.

Collect mail promptly – If you will be on vacation, ask the post office to put your mail on hold.

Pay attention to your billing cycles – If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender.

Phishing schemes – traditionally thieves used email to pose as a business in order to trick individuals into divulging personal information. However, it’s important to educate yourself on new tactics including telephone calls, instant messaging, social media and the list of tactics continues to grow.

ID theft protection services can provide counselors to walk victims through the process. Some services provide access to network attorneys but not all reimburse for losses incurred so do your research to find the best fit for your needs. In addition, stay educated about the basics and newest trends of identity theft, how to monitor personal records for evidence of fraud or theft, and about what steps to take to rectify the situation.

1 “2015 Identity Fraud,” Javelin Strategy & Research