Tips to Protecting your Identity
By Darcy Swick, Ramsey-Weeks, Inc.
Identity theft is the act of taking someone’s personal information and using it to impersonate a victim, steal from bank accounts, establish phony insurance policies, open unauthorized credit cards or obtain unauthorized bank loans.
Close to half of identity theft cases are the result of a lost or stolen wallet, checkbook, credit card or other physical document. But as online shopping becomes increasingly popular, it can also pose an identity risk.
Victims of identity theft are often left with lower credit scores and spend months or years getting credit records corrected. They frequently have difficulty getting credit, obtaining loans and finding employment. Victims of identity theft fraud often travel a long and frustrating road to recovery; depending on the severity of the identity theft damage, the recovery process can take anywhere from a few weeks to several years.
Most homeowners and renters insurance policies provide coverage for theft of money or credit cards; however the amount of coverage is limited. Some companies include the coverage for identity theft as part of the homeowner’s policy. With some companies this coverage provides a credit monitoring system. Whenever there is a change on your credit or a concern they notify you. This will give you reassurance that your credit is constantly being monitored everyday to protect your credit. Some companies allow you to add another household member for an additional premium. Check your policy to find out. Other companies sell identity theft as a rider on the homeowner’s policy and the cost can run from $25.00 to $50.00 annually.
Identity theft insurance provides reimbursement to crime victims for the cost of restoring their identity and repairing their credit. It generally covers expenses such as phone bills, lost wages, notary and certified mailing costs, and sometimes attorney fees. Identity theft coverage does not cover the actual funds lost. Check with your homeowner’s insurance or lending institution for coverage.
Tips to Avoid Identity Theft
- Keep the amount of personal information in your purse or wallet to a bare minimum.
- Guard your credit card when making purchases. Shield your hand when using the ATM machine.
- Always take your credit card or ATM receipts. Don’t throw them in the public trash.
- Do not give out your personal information unless you have initiated the contact.
- Proceed with caution when shopping online. Only use authenticated websites to conduct business.
- Monitor your accounts. Don’t rely on your credit card companies.
- Order a copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus.
- Place passwords on your credit card, bank and phone accounts.
- Shred any documents containing personal information such as credit card numbers.
If you are a victim of a crime, report it to the credit card company and police immediately. Ask for a copy of the police report. You will need it if you want to file an insurance claim.
Any further questions or you would just like someone to review your existing home policy to confirm that you have identity theft please give me a call. I would be happy to assist you.