Today’s technology makes our lives a lot easier and more convenient than in the past. Unfortunately it also brings with it an increased chance for Identity Theft. Besides the financial costs associated with ID Theft, victims of this crime spend hours and even days and weeks trying to resolve the issue and repair their credit. Identity Theft Coverage can protect you in the even that someone steals your identity.
Signs of Possible Fraud
Identity Theft and Fraud are not always obvious until it’s too late. Here are some signs to watch out for:
- Money is withdrawn from your checking or savings account in small or large quanitites.
- Your bank informs you of suspicious spending activities
- Your bank confirms illigitimate credit activity.
- An ATM machine informs you it is not fuctioning AFTER you have submitted your card or pin number.
- Someone contacts you and requests your personal information.
- A retail clerk or internet store requests extensive personal information when you are paying by credit or debit.
- You receive notices of credit activity from banks or lenders with which you do not have an account.
- Your credit reports reflect accounts that are not valied.
- Your wallet or purse is stolen with your identificaiton or debit or credit cards in it.
Tips for Protecting Your Identity
Taking steps to proactively protect your identity can save you a substantial amount of time and trouble later on. Some steps that you can take to protect yourself against Identity Theft include:
- Monitor your bank accounts weekly (daily if possible). Look for any transactions that you do not have record of and did not expect. Call your bank immediately regarding any questionable transaction.
- Keep your receipts so that you can compare these to your account transactions.
- Never provide personal information to anyone who contacts you via the phone or internet.
- Do not share your passwords or pin numbers.
- Select pin numbers and passwords that are not obvious but that you can remember without writing down. Passwords that are a combination of numbers and letters (upper and lower case) are best. Try not to use the same pin number and password for all of your accounts.
- If you keep financial records on your computer, make sure that these records require a unique password to access. Do not keep financial records and password information on public or office computers.
- Do not access your financial information from a public computer or using a non-secure wireless network.
- Do not carry around bank, credit cards, or other forms of identification such as social security cards or passports that you do not use on a daily basis. Lock these in a safe or safe deposit box.
- Before leaving a restaurant or retail store where you are paying by credit card, make sure that the merchant’s receipt does not show your entire credit card number.
- Be wary of ATMs that claim to be “Fee Free”. ATM operators offer cash services as a way to make money. “Fee Free” services can be a red flag to let you know that the machine is not legitimate. The exception is your bank which may offer fee free services to its customers.
- Be wary of ATM machines that are free-standing outside of a building. These easily moved machines may be illegitimate ATMs whose sole purpose is to collect your banking information.
- Do not throw away bank or credit card statements without shredding them first.
- If your mailbox does not lock, consider installing a locking mailbox. Thieves have been known to steal account statements, checks, new credit cards and more from unlocked mailboxes.
- Be sure to check your credit report from each of the 3 main credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax and TransUnion) at least annually. Report any conflicts or erroneous information immediately. Everyone is entitled to one free credit report from each of these companies every year. Click Here to request your free credit reports.