Were you one of the 143 million American consumers who was affected by the Equifax data breach? If so, hackers could have accessed your name, address, birthdate, Social Security number, and driver’s license number. And even if nothing came from this most recent data breach, the idea that someone out there could have all of your personal and financial information at their fingertips is a frightening one. Identity theft is something that affects millions of Americans each year. And while it is almost impossible to completely protect yourself from this threat, there are certain steps that you can take to make it more difficult for hackers to access your information. Keep reading to learn more about common identity theft threats, how to protect yourself from cybercriminals, and the benefits of identity theft insurance.
Should You Be Worried About Identity Theft?
Over the last several years, identity theft has become a lucrative business for criminals, with 10 percent of Americans aged 16 or older reporting that they were victims of identity theft from 2015 to 2016. And while most people are familiar with the headlines that discuss big company data breaches, the most common types of identity theft typically take place much closer to home. These include:
Credit and Debit Card Fraud
If a criminal gains access to your credit or debit card information, they can easily charge unauthorized purchases to your accounts—even if they don’t physically have your card. It’s very common for these fraudsters to steal your information from faulty ATMs that have fraudulent card readers attached or when you shop online. After chip credit and debit cards were implemented across the US, online shopping fraud rose by 30 percent in the first 6 months of 2017.
Shopping online with risky vendors means that cybercriminals can easily access your account number, PIN, and security code. Then after they make their online purchases, they will have the items sent to a different address and leave you to foot the bill. The best way to protect your credit or debit card information from fraudsters is to always check your ATM for signs of tampering before use and to only shop with trusted websites that provide multiple authentication steps and security checks.
Mail Identity Theft
If a criminal steals your mail, it can be easy for them to access your account information, open up new lines of credit in your name, and even change the address associated with these accounts so that you won’t be aware of their theft until you try to take out a loan yourself. In 2016, the USPS reported over 60,000 complaints of mail theft, showing that this remains one of the biggest threats to everyday Wisconsin residents.
To help prevent mail identity theft, it can be useful to invest in a locking mailbox that lets your mail carrier securely deliver your mail. Then once it’s time to check your mail, you can only access the contents of the box if you have a key. Similarly, purchasing a post office box can be helpful for anyone who feels like their mail may be vulnerable to local thieves and fraudsters.
Protect Your Financial Future with Identity Theft Insurance
While identity theft insurance can’t prevent your information from being stolen, it can help you to pick up the pieces after this type of event. With comprehensive coverage, your policy may cover the cost of lost wages, financial counseling, legal fees, and more. Call (262) 248-5555 or contact our friendly Lake Geneva insurance agents at Glass Insurance Center today for more information and be sure to request a free quote.