Just this year, a thief stole a Green Bay resident’s identity to take out loans for luxury cars. The victim had no idea until he started to get calls from the lenders for late payments. In another local case, criminals broke into cars to take bank account information they used to steal funds from a local bank. Identity theft can take many forms and damage your credit, reputation, and bank accounts. When it strikes this close to home, it’s time to learn how to protect yourself from this rising threat.
Learn to Spot Identity Theft
The most common kinds of identity theft involve losing personal information. In turn, the criminals will use credit cards, social security, bank account, and driver’s license numbers to establish credit, steal money, and even to file fraudulent tax forms. These criminals may try to gather this information from the victim through fake websites, phone calls, or even in person. In other cases, hackers break into the databases of retailers or service providers that store addresses, names, and payment information.
Naturally, you should exercise caution when asked to supply personal and financial information over the phone, on the internet, and even to people you meet. For instance:
- It’s better to type in the address of your bank or online retailer than to follow an email link. Before you log in to any website, check the website address carefully and make sure you see the green lock by the URL that indicates a secure website.
- If you ever get a strange request for personal data or money on the phone, take the time to verify it, even if you have to hang up, check the number, and call back later. Today’s phone scammers know how to spoof phone numbers, and they use automated systems to place hundreds of calls a day, just hoping they can hit a target.
- And no, the IRS will never call you to get your payment information on the phone or to threaten you that the sheriff is on the way. If somebody calls and claims to be a friend or family member who needs money, be sure you ask some personal questions to verify his or her identity.
Still, no matter how carefully you handle your information, you can’t guarantee that you’re totally immune. Criminals might break into your car or hack the online records of your favorite store. You may not even know that you’ve become a victim of identity theft until you get calls or letters from lenders, see a drop in your credit score, or discover surprising charges on your debit card statement.
Understanding Identity Theft Insurance
You might reduce your risk of losses by purchasing a type of coverage called identity theft protection. Prices vary somewhat, but these plans usually only cost a few dollars a month. You may be able to add this kind of coverage to your existing home or renters policy. You can also purchase standalone coverage.
Basically, identity theft protection will help reimburse you for any expenses and even time needed to repair your credit and prevent further damage. Some also include a credit monitoring service that will help alert you faster to suspicious use of your data. The service may also include tools that will make it easier to restore your credit and stop the thieves.
Learn More About Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft
At Pagel and Associates Insurance, we’re in the business of protecting our clients. You can call or email us today to ask about identity theft protection and other types of insurance. We represent our clients as we help them shop the market for affordable coverage and also after they need to make an insurance claim.