Imagine waking up one morning to find that your name has been used to open accounts, buy property, and enter into contracts that you’ve never even heard of, and that someone has been impersonating you for their own gain. Imagine getting erroneous bills and tax returns for YEARS and filing fraud reports over and over with no results.
This is more than just credit card fraud. It’s identity theft.
If your identity was stolen, what would you do?
Nearly $50 billion dollars in losses are attributed to identity theft in the United States each year. Around 15 million U.S. residents are impacted. In a digital age, consumers are often not even at fault for giving access to their information. Close to 100 million Americans have had their records compromised when government or corporate databases are lost or stolen. Unless you live entirely “off the grid,” it is almost impossible to fully protect your information.
If your identity is stolen, you are often not responsible for fraudulent charges but the time and money invested in the “clean up” can be significant. The nightmare continued for more than TWO years for Identity Theft Victim, Teresa Simko.
However, you can transfer some of that risk by purchasing identity theft insurance. It’s easier than you think. You can add identity theft protection to your existing Homeowner’s Policy. For sometimes as little as $24 per year, you can get the coverage without the hassle of a separate policy.
At Compass Insurance Partners, our Identity Theft Coverage provides identity recovery counseling to guide you through the process of ending the nightmare. It will help you to recover and restore your identity to your pre-loss state.
You can also take these simple steps to avoid putting your identity in danger.
- Use a Private Computer and secured WiFi. Whether you are shopping or paying bills, doing it on your own computer and network can take away much of the risk associated with cyber attackers intercepting information. Internet cafes or public Wi-Fi are often targets, allowing hackers to gather any sensitive information used in that session.
- Physically Secure Sensitive Information. Tax returns, bank statements, and bills contain information that can be dangerous in the wrong hands. A car or house break-in could give access to keys to your identity if they are not adequately protected. Consider locking up your files and mailbox and keeping identifying information out of your vehicles. A stolen car with an address and garage door opener could invite a larger loss than just a vehicle.
- Be a Sceptic. If you get a call that you’ve won a free cruise that seems too good to be true, it probably is. An email about an unexpected package that you never received or from a person that you don’t know or anything raising money for a king in Nigeria is more than likely a phishing scam designed to get you to respond and inadvertently share personal information. Beware of these scams and protect yourself.
- Recognize Legitimacy. Identity thieves thrive on making themselves look as “real” as possible. Learn to recognize red flags. For example, bill pay sites should always be secure, beginning with “https” at the start of the URL. This indicates that the website is authenticated and protects the data shared therein. As well, you should always verify that apps are from a reputable source. Otherwise an innocent download could open a flood of problems and potentially compromise your information.
While these steps can make it less likely that your identity is stolen, they cannot replace the time, hassle, and potentially money that could be lost if you become one of the 15 million Americans that become victims of identity theft. However, for a few dollars per month, proper identity theft insurance can. And that peace of mind is more valuable than you can imagine.