Are you concerned about having your personal or financial information stolen? Identity theft is a rising crime in the US with millions of people affected each year. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to lessen your personal risk of experiencing identity theft and limiting its financial impact.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the stealing of your personal information. This can include your name, address, phone number, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, social security number, passwords, and account login information. The bad news is that identity theft is increasingly prevalent. It is estimated that identity theft occurs once every 3 seconds, and it is getting worse. According to Norton/ Lifelock, there were 12.6 million cases of identity theft with 22.1 billion dollars stolen in 2012. In 2017, there were 16.7 million cases of identity theft and 16.8 billion dollars stolen.
Identity Theft Is Fraud, and It’s Used to Commit Fraud
Personal information is stolen in order to commit fraud. This can be employment or tax-related fraud where someone uses your identity in order to attain employment or file taxes under your name. It can be a credit card or bank fraud where an individual uses your credit cards or bank cards to make purchases or opens credit card accounts and bank accounts in your name, and your personal information can be stolen to attain loans or leases under your name.
Recent Identity Theft/Data Breaches
The first recent data breach that may come to your mind is the 2017 Equifax data breach. In this breach, Equifax was found to have unsatisfactory protocol for stopping hackers and getting notified of breaches to their servers and data. During this breach 143 million individuals were affected, and it’s extremely significant because this is a credit reporting company and no one can opt-out of being reported to this company. In 2019, there have been nine major data breaches that include:
- CafePress (23 million affected)
- Capital One (100 million affected)
- DoorDash (4.9 million affected)
- State Farm (2016 and 2019, Unknown Number Affected)
- Facebook (50 million affected)
- FEMA (2.5 million affected)
- Poshmark (Non-financial data breach, Unknown number affected)
- Quest Diagnostics (Unknown number affected)
Protecting Yourself Against Identity Theft
Identity theft can occur from any number of ways, from someone going through your trash or breaking into your home or car and stealing personal information to hackers gaining access to business and government servers. While you won’t be able to entirely prevent these attacks, especially the ones involving business and government servers, you can still take steps to protect your identity.
- Shred all paperwork with your name, address, phone number and or financial information
- Keep personal and financial documents locked in a safe
- Shred all store receipts and online purchase receipts
- Use and keep updated virus and malware prevention software on your computers and portable digital devices
- Never give your personal information out over the phone to anyone who calls you
- Never click on an email link, even if you know the sender
- Invest in identity theft insurance and credit monitoring
- Don’t hesitate to initiate a fraud alert on your credit reports if you think your personal or financial information has been stolen
- Change your account passwords often (not to protect the front-end login but to make sure that if your login credentials are stolen that they are not accurate)
- Close and/or delete all online accounts that you no longer use
Getting Identity Theft Insurance
To further protect yourself in the event that your personal or financial information is stolen, you can get identity theft insurance by contacting our agents at Imes Insurance Associates. While getting insurance coverage for identity theft doesn’t prevent data breaches or individuals from stealing your information, it may help lessen the financial impact of a data breach. This type of insurance coverage is often added to homeowners, renters, or property insurance policies, and it may come with the added benefit of talking to an identity theft counselor so that you can quickly retake control of your information and your life.
To learn more about our options for identity theft insurance, give us a call at 480-820-2020.