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Money Matters

How to Avoid Identity Theft

Protecting your identity is just as important as protecting your home or car. With every passing year, identity theft and data breeches are happening more often. And the damage to your credit rating can be overwhelming. Recovering your personal information if compromised can be a long and headache-inducing process. That’s why it’s important to be prepared and proactive in case the unexpected happens.

By taking an active role to protect yourself from identity theft, you’ll be able to better thwart scammers and thieves. Even when criminals have detailed financial information about you, there are steps you can take to keep your identity and good credit safe.

Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Preventing identity theft often means protecting your personal information. Being conscious of where your personal information like your social security number or credit cards are kept and making sure they can only be accessed by you is a good first step to helping keep your identity safe and secure. The following tips highlight specifics ways to protect your personal information so you can avoid identity theft.

Avoid carrying too much ID

If you lose your wallet or purse, everything in there could fall into the wrong hands. Avoid carrying too much by only bringing along credit cards you use regularly and keeping your social security card locked up at home.

Also consider safely storing a photocopy of the front and back of each card so you’ll have those details in the event they’re misplaced or stolen.

Always save and validate your receipts

Set aside an hour every weekend and reconcile your receipts against your various accounts. This will help you to verify that all transactions are legitimate. And this act can help to prevent others from accessing your receipts and ATM transaction information.

Set up purchase alerts on your credit cards

Contact your credit card providers and enroll in their purchase alerts program. You may be able to receive a text message that requires your OK to allow a transaction to proceed. Other programs notify you that a purchase has been made each time the card is used.

Be careful with credit cards when making purchases

ID criminals are memorizing or photographing credit card data when you have it out in order to make a purchase. By carefully guarding your card from sight when using it, you’ll prevent them from being able to see it.

If you do become a victim of credit card fraud, don’t fret, there are immediate steps you can take to ensure your identity and money hasn’t been compromised.

Shop online with caution

Be certain that all of your online purchases are done through websites that use a secure socket layer. URLs that begin with “https” are using such encryption systems that help to secure your personally identifiable information (PII) as it travels across the internet. Be cautious when shopping online especially during the holidays because credit card fraud is more common during big annual events.

Review Your Credit Report Frequently

One of the best ways to manage your credit score is to actively monitor your credit accounts through the lens of the various credit reporting agencies. Order a free report from each of the three major agencies and verify all accounts and balances.

For additional protection, American Family partners with CyberScout to offer credit monitoring services that alert you when a new credit account is opened in your name or when an account is updated or your contact details change. This helps to immediately spot fraud so that identity thieves can quickly be thwarted.

How Businesses Can Avoid Identity Theft

Believe it or not, businesses can fall victim to identity theft too. Thankfully there’s a lot you can do to help prevent that from happening. Here’s a quick list of ways to keep your business safe:

  • Prevent mail fraud by converting to digital statements
  • Consistently use a confetti shredder before you dispose of sensitive documents
  • Use a digitally encrypted filing system to house customer data
  • Prevent hacking by installing a physical firewall and use a VPN for external internet access
  • Actively monitor your business’ credit report
  • Require strong passwords of all employees

Whether a business or your own personal information, identity theft can happen even if you are proactive and follow these tips. Thankfully, there are steps you can take to recover your identity and quickly get your life back on track.

How Does Identity Theft Insurance Protect You?

Identity theft insurance helps you cover the costs related to identity theft if you’re victimized by identity scammers. It can help you financially recover by covering expenses such as:

  • Legal fees
  • Loan reapplication fees
  • Notary expenses
  • Lost wages due to time taken from work to restore your credit

Reach Out To Your Agent Today

ID theft can catch you off guard if you’re not ready it. But by following these tips, you can be help protect yourself from identity thieves — and be proactive in keeping your PII and finances safe from scammers.

Talk to your American Family Insurance agent about how you can quickly add affordable identity theft coverage to your homeowners or renters policy. For more information, take a look at a few more identity protection tips to help ensure you’re doing all you can to keep your finances safe.

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Related Topics: Identity Theft