Identity Theft

Identity Theft Series

Identity theft is no laughing matter.  It can strike nearly anyone at any time. It is important to protect yourself as well as know how to deal with it.  This series can help.

Supplemental Articles

Identity Theft: What to Do If It Strikes You

Identity Theft Series

Most identity thieves work quickly, because they know they have limited time to act before being found out. If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, you need to work just as fast. 

Lock Down Accounts

The first thing to do if you notice a problem with one of your accounts is to contact the institution that handles the account. Let them know there is suspicious activity. You will need to start the process of disputing the charge or charges, but you should also take measures to lock the account at least temporarily or possibly even close the account. 

Your financial institution can walk you through the process of changing your account numbers and issuing new checks, ATM, debit or credit cards as necessary. If the account in question is a bank account that is linked to other accounts, like maybe you have set up automatic bill pay or maybe you have direct deposit, you will need to make any necessary updates.

Once you have secured the problem account, check all of your other accounts. Even if they are not connected in any way, still make a point to double check. You do not know how the thief was able to access the initial account, so you don’t know what information he or she has, and what else they can access. If you notice any suspicious or out of the ordinary activity on your other accounts, go through the same process of contacting the managing institution or company to sound the alarm and secure the account.

File Reports

After you have done your best to minimize the damage and prevent further theft, you will need to file a report with the Federal Trade Commission. You will receive information regarding next steps, and even tips to help you dispute any fraudulent charges. Filing a report with the Federal Trade Commission will also generate an identity theft report, which you can later use to repair your credit report.

You will also need to file a report with your local police department. This can be tricky, because some agencies require crimes to be reported in the jurisdiction where the crime occurred. If you know who stole your identity and where that person is located, you can file a complaint with their local police department. Reports can be filed over the phone if necessary. If you do not know the location of the crook, go ahead and file a report with your local police department.

Freeze Your Credit

You may decide to freeze your credit after your identity is stolen. This is not mandatory, but it will prevent the three major consumer reporting agencies from releasing information about your credit history should any requests come in. This can be beneficial, because if a thief attempts to open any new accounts using your information they will likely be unsuccessful. The agency that issued you the freeze may provide a PIN you can use to grant access to your credit report should you need to open new accounts while the freeze is in place. You can choose when to lift the freeze; although, some states specify the length of the freeze.

Getting Your Money Back

All banks and credit card companies have policies in place to deal with fraudulent charges. Once you have disputed the charges, it is up to the institution to determine if you will be reimbursed or if any charges and fees will be dropped. If the thief is brought to justice, stolen money may be recovered or the individual may have to pay restitution. 

Fix Your Credit Report

Your credit report is used to generate your credit score, essentially a number financial institutions use to determine how much of a risk it is to lend you money. Good credit scores enable you to take out loans when you want to purchase a new car or a home, or open credit cards. Landlords typically run a credit check before renting apartments, and even some companies check the credit score of applicants before offering a job. Identity theft can trash your credit score and cause long-term damage. Fixing your report and score will take some effort, but can prevent a bad score from standing in your way when you want to open accounts, purchase a home or do anything else that requires a good credit report.

Protect Your Identity

We are here to help. Call us at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us to learn more about identity theft and how identity theft insurance might be a good choice.

Identity Theft: Protect Yourself

Identity Theft Series

Prevention is your best line of defense against identity theft. Be mindful of where your wallet, credit cards, ATM or debit cards, checks and anything else with identifying information is at all times. Take special care to protect your social security number, because if this falls into the wrong hands a lot can go wrong. Properly dispose of receipts, or better yet, if you do not need a receipt do not request one at ATMs or gas stations. Do not tell people your PIN, pass codes or passwords to any of your accounts.

Mind Your Digital Presence

Take precautions online to protect your information. Use different and unique passwords for all of your accounts, and try to use passwords that are hard for others to guess. Only shop at secure websites that start with ‘https.’ Even if you are on a secure site, avoid online shopping on public or work computers. When using your own laptop or smartphone, avoid making online purchases or paying bills when you are on public wi-fi.

Be Careful About Giving Information Away

Some would-be criminals will go to great lengths to obtain your information. They may go through garbage to retrieve credit card offers you received in the mail or pose as employees of financial institutions and offer to sign people up for accounts either in person or over the phone. It is best to shred credit card and other offers you receive in the mail to prevent thieves from opening accounts in your name. When you encounter solicitors, be sure to ask questions. It is best to just walk away if you have a bad feeling about it.

Be Aware

On average, victims of identity theft lose a combined amount of  $1,343. This includes the amount stolen, plus any overdraft fees and other expenses tied to the theft. The best thing you can do to minimize the damage caused by identity theft is be aware of your finances. Noticing suspicious activity means you already have a problem, but the sooner you identify you have a problem, the sooner you can take action to fix it.

Be Vigilant

Monitor statements and accounts to look for unusual activity. Withdrawals from your accounts that you did not make, charges for items you did not purchase, and even medical statements for care you did not receive are all indications of identity fraud. Keep an eye on your digital accounts, too. Indicators of potential problems include receiving an email indicating you recently changed a password to one of your accounts when you did not do so, or if are unable to log in to an account.

Check Your Credit Report

Make it a habit to regularly check your credit report. A credit report is a rundown of your credit history. This report contains a running list of every bank account, credit card and loan opened in your name. A credit report also indicates if you typically pay your bills on time, or if you are late.

Reviewing all of this information, from monthly and quarterly statements to an annual credit report can alert you to possible identity theft. The sooner you notice the problem the better, because you can stop things before they get worse. There are services that offer credit monitoring and identity theft protection, which can help guard and protect your information and immediately alert you to trouble.

Bob Johnson Insurance Can Help

We are here to help. Call us at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us to learn more about identity theft and how identity theft insurance might be a good choice.

Identity Theft: What is It?

Identity Theft Series

Identity theft is a problem more than 8 million Americans face each year. If left unchecked, identity theft can be devastating, but if caught early it is possible to make a full recovery. When the proper steps are taken, it is even possible to prevent identity theft from occurring. Learn more and find out how to best protect yourself, what to do if you fall victim to identity theft and how Bob Johnson Insurance can help.

What is Identity Theft

Identity theft is when some steals identifying information about you and uses this information to access your accounts or to open new accounts in your name. This type of theft can range from accessing and stealing money from your bank accounts, to opening credit cards or taking out loans in your name. 

Valuable Information

Your name and address are some of the easiest information a thief can use to steal your identity. Other types of information identity thieves can use to commit crimes include credit card and bank account numbers, your social security number and even medical insurance account numbers.

Types of Identity Theft

The most common occurrences of identity theft involve financial fraud. A thief may use your information to access your bank accounts and steal money. Thieves may also open accounts in your name, like credit cards or take out loans. The crook will use a different address for any accounts they set up, so you will not even realize these accounts exist. After the thief has charged or withdrawn money, they simply ignore the account, and sooner or later the lender will track you down, thinking you are the one who opened the account, and demand payment.

Impact of Identity Theft

Unraveling the mess caused by identity theft can take months and possibly even years to resolve. If a thief clears out your savings, you may be unable to pay your bills, which may cause you to end up in collections. In addition, taking out lines of credit in your name and not making payments on those bills and statements can damage your credit score.

Bob Johnson Insurance Can Help

We are here to help. Call us at 800-624-3339 or click here to contact us to learn more about identity theft and how identity theft insurance might be a good choice.

Insurance Tips Every College Student Should Know — Tip #3: Identity Theft Protection

Insurance Tips for College Students

In these two weeks, we are discussing insurance tips that every college student should know.  Many people don’t consider the risk of identity theft for a college student.  That’s the topic of this third tip.

Is My College Student Really at Risk?

10 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year.  You may be surprised that it can happen to every classification of person — babies, the deceased, hospital patients, poor, middle-class, rich and even college students. This issue is so significant that we are already working on an entire series devoted to this topic.

College Students Can Be More Susceptible to Identity Theft

Identity thieves look for sources of personal information, and colleges provide them with a strong opportunity.  This means that college students may be more at risk for identity theft than other people. There are several factors that cause this situation.

  • Close living quarters / roommates
  • Constant social media interaction
  • High volume of internet downloads
  • Amount of time spent online
  • Potential data management issues of the college or university
  • Students register for credit cards and often do not protect their personal information as they do so
  • Mail theft at the college P.O.
  • Graduating students look for jobs and send out hundreds of resumes as well as filling out applications and submitting resumes online

The list can go on, but you get the idea.  It’s all about the potential of identity thieves to get your personal information.

Questions to Ask for Your Insurance Review

Many insurance companies offer identity theft protection in addition to standard homeowners and renters policies. When you call your agent, ask him/her these questions.

  1. What is my risk and my student’s risk of identity theft?
  2. How much coverage do I need and what are my options for identity theft insurance?

How Long Will It Take to Get Answers to My Insurance Questions?

You should be able to get most (if not all) of your information with a phone call or two.  At Bob Johnson Insurance, we are always ready to provide the answers to your questions.  Give us a call at 865-922-3111.