ID Theft Insurance and Protection
Identity theft is an unfortunate byproduct of the modern society, where we trade and transmit so much of our personal information electronically. Most of us have become more accepting of the need to properly dispose of our letters and bank statements, but still many of us are inputting our data online without much care for the real risk of identity theft. Protecting yourself against ID theft may take a little bit more time, but it can save you thousands, if not hundreds of thousands; of dollars if it thwarts an ID thief. With up to 9 million Americans being victims of this crime every year, it pays to be aware of the risks.
How Can I Protect Myself?
There are a growing number of online products that have been designed to protect consumers from identity theft. These clever pieces of software enable you to closely monitor and action any changes on your account, giving you early-warning signs of identity theft or credit card fraud being committed in your name. However, if you follow some common sense procedures; you can afford yourself just as much protection without having to pay for the privilege.
One of the most important things to remember is to be vigilant when using the internet. Besides the mandatory anti-virus and anti-malware programs you should be running alongside your firewall, remember the human elements of risk and always clear your usernames and passwords from any fields. Particularly if you’re using a public PC like in the office or at a library, ID thieves can pull a lot of information about you from very little. Change your usernames, passwords and PINs monthly and never keep them stored anywhere.
The crime of ‘phishing’ is a popular way to steal identities, activities in which an identity theft will try to mimic genuine websites and companies such as banks; in an attempt to convince you to part with your personal details. Armed with this knowledge, they can access your accounts and apply for loans without your knowledge. Always ensure that the website you’re using is genuine and accredited before entering your details, use security controls, look for seals in the address bar and check for SSL protection (https).
Using your Credit Card online
Credit cards come with a much stronger protection than bank transfers or debit cards. You are afforded a much deeper level of safeguard against identity theft and unauthorized usage with a credit card. When possible, always try to use your credit card to make online payments and purchases, safe in the knowledge that your money should be able to be recovered in the event of fraud.
Using an Identity Theft Protection Service
If you feel that investing in an identity theft protection service will give you better peace of mind, then there are a few things to bear in mind. There are many companies out there posing to be ‘protection services’ but are actually the complete opposite. As wolves in sheep’s clothing, you can find identity thieves posing as the very agencies that are designed to thwart them; so always perform your due diligence and check the integrity of any website or software you visit. When you find a trustworthy body, sign up for fraud alerts and credit freezes to slow down any thieves long enough for you to action changes to your account and lock the thieves out.