Identity Theft Reality
We live in a digital world. We can order food and common household items from the comfort of our sofa with a few clicks of the mouse. We socialize and file our taxes online. We video chat and check our credit reports online. While these advances make life easier, they also present a platter of vulnerabilities. With the evolution of technology and the ever-present mixing of technology into our personal lives, you need to take steps to prevent identity theft now.
In 2017, there were over 16 million victims of identity fraud and a loss of $16.8 billion, according to Javelin Strategy & Research. These numbers shattered the previously record-breaking numbers of 2016.
The Federal Trade Commission’s(FTC) Consumer Sentinel Network reported a decrease in the number of complaints of identity theft and fraud in 2017, but a rise in the amount of money stolen.
Image source: Insurance Information Institute
How Victim’s Information is Misused
The largest misuse of victim’s information was for employment or tax-related fraud at 34 percent in 2016. Just under this figure is credit card fraud at 29.2 percent, according to complaint reports through the FTC. New account fraud was the third largest reported misuse of information.
“Insert your chip”, may be the latest method of credit card payment, and the latest deterrent for thieves. The use of chips on debit and credit cards has made it more difficult to counterfeit cards. Criminals have since found a better source for information – New Account Fraud.
The Insurance Information Institute(III) states new account fraud is when someone opens a credit card in your name using your personal information. This crime tripled in numbers from 2016 to 2017 with total losses at $5.1 billion. It was the third most common consumer complaint, reports the FTC.
Image source: Federal Trade Commission
What You Need to Prevent Identity Theft Now
Don’t wait for an attack to happen to you. Prepare now to safeguard your information, money, and identity with these tips from the FTC Department of Consumer Information.
Keep Your Personal Information Secure Offline
- Lock your financial records in a safe place at home. Keep your personal information guarded while you are out
- Take only the information you need with you when you leave home.
- Before you share information, ask why they need it and how they will safeguard it.
- Shred receipts, credit offers, credit applications, insurance forms, physician statements, checks, bank statements, expired credit cards, and similar documents.
- Destroy labels on prescription bottles.
- Take outgoing mail to the post office.
- Opt out of prescreened offers of credit and insurance by mail at com Keep Your Personal Information Secure Online
- Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail, or over the internet unless you’ve initiated the contact.
- Before you dispose of a computer or mobile device, get rid of all the personal information on it.
Keep Your Personal Information Secure Online
- Use encryption software to scramble information you send over the internet
- Keep passwords private and use strong passwords.
- Don’t overshare on social networking sites. Thieves can use this information to answer “challenge” questions on your accounts.
- Secure your Social Security number by asking why they need it, how they will use it and protect it, and if you can use a different form of identification.
- Use security software on your computer.
- Avoid phishing emails
- Be wise about using public wi-fi
- Lock your mobile device and laptop so when they are not in use, they remain locked.
Are You a Victim of Identity Theft?
While you take steps to prevent identity theft, become familiar with the steps you should take if you become a victim. As criminals develop ever more elaborate and intelligent ways to steal information and your hard-earned money, the chance of identity fraud is always present. Follow these steps from the FTC the moment you think and know you are a victim.
Protect Against Identity Theft with Insurance Coverage
You can’t always prevent identity theft, but you can take steps to reduce the chances of it happening, lessen the damage, and protect yourself with insurance coverage. Speak with one of our professionals at Abri Insurance today to discuss your insurance needs and options. We will find a plan to fit what you need and keep your identity protected.