Insurance is there to help protect you from the worst financial situations. And in today’s data-driven world, identity theft remains a constant threat that comes with a big financial risk.
When an identity thief has your Social Security number and other identifying information, they can use it to fraudulently open new accounts or credit cards for financial gain, steal money from your existing accounts, apply for loans, rent an apartment, obtain a job, receive medical care or establish accounts with utility companies.
Still not sure if you need identity theft insurance? Here are a couple of reasons why you should consider it the next time you speak with your independent insurance agent.
Reason #1: Your household contains children or seniors.
Everyone with a Social Security number is at risk for identity theft, but identity thieves like to target individuals who are less likely to regularly check for identity theft warning signs or report irregular activity on their credit reports. This means children and seniors are prime targets.
If you have children, periodically check for a credit report in their name. If no credit report exists, that is a good sign that your child has not been a victim of identity theft. However, if you start receiving collection calls, statements or pre-approval credit offers in your child’s name, these are warning signs that your child’s identity may have been stolen.
If you have seniors in your household, help them learn about common tactics identity thieves use to trick their victims into sharing private personal information that could compromise their identity. Seniors are most often targeted with over the phone and internet phishing scams. Teach them how to identify phishing and encourage them to call the organization directly to confirm if the communication is real or a phishing attempt before they share any information.
Reason #2: You’re in the military.
Active duty military members are particularly vulnerable to identity theft while they’re deployed. This is because they might not be checking their credit reports or receiving calls from debt collectors.
According to the FTC, military members are most affected by bank and credit card fraud, but they have also been victims of employment fraud, tax-related fraud and loan or lease fraud.
If deployment is in your future, set up an Active Duty Military Fraud Alert on your credit report. Once in place, businesses must verify your identity before issuing credit in your name and this makes it harder for identity thieves to use your information to apply for credit.
Reason #3: You’re on social media.
When you share your name, date of birth, hometown and other personal information on your social media profile, it makes it easier for cybercriminals to connect that information to even more sensitive information that they collect from you from phishing or another type of scam.
In 2018, the FTC processed over 9,000 email or social media identity theft reports, which was a 23% increase from the previous year.
Think twice before you share a lot of personal information on your social media profiles.
Reason #4: Your password is 12345.
If you use a simple password to protect your accounts or internet-connected devices, then it’s time to update it. Some examples of a simple password are 12345, password and admin.
A secure password is long, includes a mix of letters, numbers and symbols and it isn’t easily guessed. You should also avoid using the same password for all of your accounts, since cracking it in one location could open the door for an identity thief to access and takeover your other accounts, too. Consider using two-factor authentication, which sends a code to your phone during log in, whenever it’s available to add an additional layer of password protection.
Even if none of these reasons apply to you, it pays to be on the lookout for identity theft. CyberScout, a provider of full-spectrum identity, privacy and security services, recommends checking your credit report from all three credit agencies at least twice a year. Under FACTA, every consumer has the right to obtain a copy of his or her credit report free from each of the credit reporting agencies. Take advantage of this opportunity and learn about additional prevention techniques like setting up credit monitoring to keep your identity, and those of your loved ones, safe.
Reposted with permission from the original author, Grange Insurance Company.