It’s ID Theft Awareness Month, Are You Protected?

It’s ID Theft Awareness Month, Are You Protected?

February 02, 2022
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Identity theft isn’t a new phenomenon; however, the face of identity theft has changed dramatically. Over the years it’s evolved with the technology and economic landscape that surrounds it. Understanding your exposure and staying informed of the trends and methods that thieves use to steal from you is the first step in a strong defense against identity theft. 

Getting a hold of your information isn’t as complicated as you might think. In fact, much of your personal identifiable information (PII) could be publicly available online or through public records such as court documents.

Top of our list is: IMPOSTER SCAMS. Fraudsters may pose as a professional from a bank, the IRS, a utility company, a charity, or another reputable institution in an attempt to gather PII directly from you. These scams often rely on a sense of urgency, insisting that you must send funds immediately. Remember to take a moment when you receive a call like this and ask yourself if the urgency makes sense

A close second on the list: PHISHING. Similar to an imposter scam, phishing involves emails that appear to be sent from a reputable company in an attempt to gather information from you directly. A phishing email might redirect you to a form to fill out or ask you to reply with PII such as account numbers, your social security number, or other sensitive information. These emails can be difficult to spot, but they often contain vague greetings such as “dear valued customer.”

A common theft trick is: SHOULDER SURFING. Some thieves may use a camera or binoculars to obtain your card information and PIN as you use an ATM or input information online. Covering the keypad whenever you input your PIN is a simple measure that can protect you when you use ATMs, pay for gas, or withdraw cash at the grocery store.

Thieves aren’t just after wealthy adults either. More than 1.3 million children are victims of identity theft annually and 50% of these children are under 6 years old.1

Once your PII is stolen, it can be used illegitimately in many ways costing you time and money to rectify. Protect yourself by being discrete, aware, and organized. Don’t share personal information or passwords electronically and especially over public computers and WiFi. With nearly 29% of hacking-related events stemming from stolen passwords2, you need to create diverse passwords. Finally, keep your software up-to-date and antivirus software installed on all your computers for tight security.

Should you fall victim to identity theft:

  1. Report the incident to the fraud department of the three major credit bureaus and ask for a hold to be placed on your credit
  2. Contact the fraud department of each of your creditors
  3. Contact your bank or financial institution
  4. Report the incident to law enforcement
  5. Click here to download and print materials

Risk is a part of the world we live in. We may not be able to avoid it completely, but if you stay informed you can stay a step ahead. We’re happy to help you implement any necessary measures to help protect your PII.

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This document is for educational purposes only and should not be construed as legal or tax advice. One should consult a legal or tax professional regarding their own personal situation. Any comments regarding safe and secure investments and guaranteed income streams refer only to fixed insurance products offered by an insurance company. They do not refer in any way to securities or investment advisory products Insurance policy applications are vetted through an underwriting process set forth by the issuing insurance company. Some applications may not be accepted based upon adverse underwriting results.  Death benefit payouts are based upon the claims paying ability of the issuing insurance company. The firm providing this document is not affiliated with the Social Security Administration or any other government entity.

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[1] https://hostingtribunal.com/blog/identity-theft-statistics/#gref
[2] https://blog.lastpass.com/2019/05/passwords-still-problem-according-2019-verizon-data-breach-investigations-report
[3] https://marketplaceone.figmarketing.com/#!/Browse/Product/d15820b3-1dc8-4482-ae5b-700614237a7f 4