Don't Fall Victim to Identity Theft
Someone in the United States just became the victim of identity theft, according to a recent report, which determined that 12.7 million consumers experienced identity fraud in 2014. With technology becoming increasing advanced, hackers are becoming increasingly devious, which means it’s more common than ever before to learn that your identity was stolen.
“Having your identity hacked is a massive headache, not to mention big business for fraudsters, who stole a total of $16 billion in 2014,” explains Robert Elder, business leader in Tampa Bay, employer and CEO of Elder Insurance Services. “Gaining back your life after being victimized by identity theft is extremely difficult, which is why prevention is key.”
Carry only essential documents with you.
Not carrying extra credit cards, your Social Security card, birth certificate or passport outside the house can help prevent identity theft. “This is equally important for your children’s documents,” Elder says.
Keep new checks out of the mail.
When ordering new checks, pick them up at the bank instead of having them sent to your home. This makes it harder for checks to be stolen, altered and cashed by identity thieves. “Don’t forget that this includes business checks as well,” says Elder.
Be careful when giving out personal information over the phone.
Identity thieves may call, posing as banks or government agencies. Do not give out personal information over the phone unless you initiated the call. “Share this information with your elderly loved ones,” says Elder. “They are unfortunately most victimized by such scams.”
Your trash is their treasure.
Shred receipts, credit card offers, bank statements, returned checks and any other sensitive information before throwing it away. “This can sometimes feel like a bothersome extra step to your already busy day, but this is crucial,” says Elder.
Stay on top of your credit.
Make sure credit reports are accurate and that you sign up for a credit monitoring service, which can alert you by email to changes in your credit report. “Monitoring your credit report is one of the easiest ways to keep an eye on your identity. Many services even offer guarantees, should you fall victim,” explains Elder.
Keep a list of account numbers, expiration dates and telephone numbers filed away.
If your wallet is stolen, being able to quickly alert your creditors is essential. “Ensure they are stored somewhere safe, considering if there was a fire, flood or other disaster,” says Elder.
Create passwords or PIN numbers out of a random mix of letters and numbers.
Doing so makes it harder for identity thieves to discover these codes, and makes it easier for you to prevent identity theft. “Keeping easy to remember passwords are often times easy to be hacked,” says Elder.
Get preventative coverage.
Many insurance companies, including Allstate, offer protection services. Should you fall victim, there are restorative services as well.