Identity Theft: How To Prevent It and How To Address It

Did you know that identity fraud cost consumers some $16.9 billion in 2019? That’s right according to a 2020 Identity Fraud Study, which goes on to project that this issue is only predicted to become more problematic in the future.

Thanks to the internet’s vast amount of accessibility and connectivity, it makes sense that this problem is only expected to rapidly expand. After all, so much of who we are and how we conduct our lives is now online. As a result, protecting the information that we store online is of vital importance if we want to prevent ourselves from becoming the next victim of identity theft. Read on to learn some actionable tips you can implement to protect your identity and learn how best to respond if you find yourself facing an identity fraud situation:

How To Prevent Identity Theft

If you become a victim of identity fraud, scammers will often use your information in several ways, such as applying for credit cards or loans, going on shopping sprees or opening accounts in your name. The key to counteracting this issue is to stay alert. Here are some ways to prevent identity theft from occurring in the first place:

  • Add Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) and Use Strong Passwords: We understand that this can seem arduous when you are longing into accounts. However, having a strong password that isn’t easy to guess and opting for MFA instead of a simple, one-step sign-in can make you less likely to become a victim of identity theft. In fact, MFA is such an important step in protecting your identity that it is now commonly a minimum requirement for cyber insurance. If you don’t have MFAs enabled currently in your computing environment, you are actively taking part in risky behavior. Such behavior can make you impossible to cover with cyber insurance protection in some instances.

  • Be on the Lookout for Phishing Scams: This type of scam is exactly what it sounds like, someone "fishing” for your information. Scammers will often use emails, phone calls and/or text messages to trick you into giving them your personal information. Don’t fall for it!

  • Protect Your Social Security Number: It is especially important that you safeguard your minor children's social security numbers. Since they are minors, their social security numbers are especially vulnerable because they are not applying for loans or having credit checks that would alert you to problems.

  • Lock and Secure Your Mobile Devices: When not in use, make sure your phone is always locked, and it is password protected. Also, make sure your laptop and/or tablet is equally protected. 

  • Check Your Credit Score: You can access your credit score for free through three different agencies. Do so regularly to see if there is any fraudulent activity present. 

  • Sign up For Mobile/Digital Alerts: Most credit card companies and banks allow you to sign up for digital or mobile alerts that let you know when money is being spent. This is an easy way to safeguard against spending you did not authorize. 
How To Address It

What if the worst happens, and you find yourself the victim of identity theft? Here are the steps you need to take to rectify the situation:

  • File a Claim With Your Identity Theft Insurance Company: Hopefully, you have taken the smart step towards protecting your identity with identity theft insurance. If you have, your insurance provider will guide you through many of the steps listed below. If not, you will be facing the situation on your own.

  • Contact Your Local Police Department: Let them know about the fraudulent activity and file a report. 
  • File a Report with the Federal Trade Commission: They are the government agency over consumer protection.
  • Freeze Your Credit: This ensures no additional damage can be done in your name, no more accounts opened, no more purchases made. 
  • Place a Fraud Alert on Your Credit Report: This will help you explain the fraud to future professionals who are looking at your credit for loan purposes. 

  • Review Your Credit Reports: Again, check them and see what is still present that is fraud.

  • Review Your Credit Card and Bank Statements: Go hunting for additional unauthorized charges on all your credit card and bank accounts by reviewing your statements carefully. 
Bottom Line: You Can Try To Protect Yourself, But Insurance Is The Way To Go

There are many ways you can protect yourself against identity theft, but the reality is, you never know when disaster might strike. Contact our team of insurance experts to see if you are currently protected against identity theft, and see how you can get the best coverage to help your identity stay safe.

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