Research shows that today more than ever, it’s important to protect your identity. Contrary to popular belief, identity theft is more likely to start with a stolen wallet than an online phishing expedition.
Identity theft is on the rise. You’ve probably heard this sentence in the news and maybe you’ve written it off as a cliché. However, it’s a real and growing problem. To give you some idea of the magnitude, Javelin Strategy & Research reports the number of identity theft cases rose 22% between 2007 and 2008, hitting 9.9 million, and in 2016 that number increased to 15.4 million!
And, despite what you might think, these cases often begin close to home. Crimes of opportunity – such as stolen wallets or purses – represented 43% of cases in 2008, up from 33% in 2007. While most people worry about having their information stolen on the internet, only 11% of cases in 2008 involved online access (although you should still be careful about what details you share on social media!)
The scary thing about this is that it can happen anywhere and when you least suspect it. All it takes is setting down your wallet or purse on a counter and then just looking away for one moment. So while I’d encourage you to be very careful, at the same time it’s hard to constantly be vigilant. The question then becomes what do you do if you discover your identity is stolen?
If your identity is stolen, every second counts. After all, the longer somebody impersonates you, the more headaches you’re likely to encounter trying to straighten everything out. Here’s what you need to do:
- Call your credit card companies immediately. Explain what happened, and ask where to send a copy of the police report.
- Call the police to report the incident. Make several copies of the police report.
- Complete a Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Theft Affidavit and FTC report (call 1-887-ID-THEFT to request the forms).
- Call your bank. They can place an alert on your Driver’s License number and Social Security Number, as well as freeze your account.
- Call the fraud units for the following credit report agencies: Experian, Equifax, and Transunion.
Fortunately, identity theft protection is available as an endorsement on most homeowners’ policies at a small cost. For example, Safeco offers Identity Theft Protection for $12 a year to homeowner policy holders. The coverage reimburses certain expenses associated with identity recovery. Customers can also get guidance on how to protect themselves from ID theft before it happens and may receive assistance with identity restoration.
If you live around the Brookfield, CT area and want to learn more about identity theft coverage, be sure to give us a call today at (203) 775-2564 (because who knows what can happen tomorrow!)