We have all read about the nightmare stories of the growing problem of identity theft...
You've probably even seen one of the many commercials from credit card companies or software made to help deter identity theft. Did you know some homeowners insurance policies provide identity theft expense coverage? But that only applies once your identity has been compromised.
So how do you protect yourself?
The most common ways that your information is stolen according to the Federal Trade Commission are:
Dumpster Diving: Thieves sift through your trash to find personal information such as credit cards or social security numbers.
Skimming: They grab your credit card information when you swipe it at a store using special software.
Change Your Address: They divert your billing to a new address so you are unaware of the fraudulent charges being made in your name.
Phishing: They use fraudulent emails and pop-ups on the internet to get you to disclose private information.
You may be surprised to find out that only one of these methods is online and that all but one is preventable.
Here are a few ways you can prevent ID theft:
Buy a shredder: Shred all financial documents and paperwork with sensitive personal data.
Don't give out personal information over the phone or in an email.
Keep sensitive data out of your passwords so that it is not something others might guess or see.
Also, look for the bills you should be getting. Credit cards don't miss sending out a bill so if you don't get one, be on the lookout.
Make sure you scan each item shown as a charge on your bank and credit card accounts - some thieves use small charges frequently to keep the fraud ongoing.
Report any suspected fraud immediately to the FTC.
We hope your private information stays secure, and if you're concerned about the expenses associated with identity theft, please let us know. Many insurance companies now offer some type of identity theft expense coverage. Some provide the coverage at no cost to you... others charge a very small amount per year ($30 for example). To an identity theft victim, this cost could pale in comparison to the expenses incurred to restore your credit.