The Federal Trade Commission processed 2.8 million fraud reports—totaling more than $5.8 billion in losses in 2021. Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized person uses your personal identifying information (e.g., your name, Social Security number, credit card number or financial account information), without permission. You may not realize you are a victim until you review your financial statements, or you are contacted by a debt collector.
Reduce the risk of identity theft and protect yourself by:
- Shredding documents with personal information, including pre-approved credit offers.
- Reviewing financial account and billing statements.
- Using fire walls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software and keep it updated.
- Using trusted, encrypted websites—do not respond to spam, pop-ups or unsolicited emails.
- Limiting the amount of personal information on social-networking sites.
- Using strong and different passwords on each online credit and banking account.
- Destroying labels on prescription bottles before you throw them out.
Additionally, you should never provide personal information over the phone, through the mail or internet unless you know the firm or person. And, never carry your Social Security card in your wallet or write your number on a check. You shouldn’t share your health plan information with anyone who offers free health services. If you are an active-duty military member and away from your usual duty station, place an active-duty alert on your credit reports to minimize the risk while deployed. This will remove your information for prescreened credit card offers for two years.
Even if you take precautions, identity theft can happen to you. It has serious implications, such as: loss of money and time spent to repair damage to your name and credit record; loss of job opportunities; denied loans for housing, cars or education; and possible arrest for crimes you did not commit. For more information on identity theft and for a reporting portal, you can log on to the FBI Cyber Crime website: www.fbi.gov/investigate/cyber.
You may not realize you are a victim until you review your financial statements, or you are contacted by a debt collector.
Identity-theft insurance can provide reimbursement for expenses resulting from the crime, such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified-mailing costs and attorney fees. It is inexpensive and may be endorsed to your homeowners or renters insurance policies. If you are interested in the insurance, give our agency a call, we can provide more details on this coverage.