Identity theft may be something that sounds like it happens on the news, but it could very easily happen to you. Each year, millions of people lose thousands of dollars and countless hours to identity theft. Here’s how to protect yourself.
Know What Identity Theft Is
Identity theft comes in all shapes and sizes. It can range from credit card skimmers at a gas pump to someone hacking into your doctor’s office and stealing your files. Identity thieves might get everything at once, such as when they steal a credit card, or they can collect bits and pieces of information over time.
In addition to your Social Security Number, your driver’s license number, phone number, address, and even your name can be enough to give identity thieves that one little extra piece of information that they need. In many cases, they already have bits and pieces of information that they got from past breaches. You may not know it yet if nothing has happened yet, but you will know it when they get the missing piece.
What Happens When Your Identity is Stolen
When your identity is stolen, you may notice unrecognized charges on your credit card or unexpected withdrawals from your bank account. This is actually the easy part since most banks have fraud protection that will reimburse you as long as you follow the bank’s procedures.
Worse is when you don’t notice the identity theft right away. Identity thieves may use an inactive credit card or open a new card in your name, causing a hit to your credit score when you don’t pay the bill. If they overdraw your checking account, you might have to deal with missing a rent or mortgage payment. Again, this will usually all be reversed but not without time and hassle.
What to Do When Your Identity is Stolen
If your identity is stolen, take the following steps.
- Immediately call your bank to dispute unrecognized transactions. Don’t forget that the terms of your account may require you to file it in writing as well.
- Place an identity theft freeze on your credit report with each credit bureau.
- File a police report. Since many identity thefts are overseas, the police usually can’t do anything, but the report helps to legally document your case.
- Carefully monitor all of your bank and credit card accounts.
- Sign up for credit monitoring services.
How to Protect Yourself From Financial Losses After Identity Theft
Again, your bank’s fraud protection will usually cover unauthorized transactions. However, you may face the cost of credit monitoring, credit repair, legal fees, and similar costs. You may also have other temporary losses, such as not being able to rent an apartment or secure a loan while you repair your credit.
Identity theft insurance helps to cover these extra expenses as well as the cost of hiring the right professionals to help you. The exact coverage will vary by issuer, but having coverage will almost always save you time and money.
Get an Identity Theft Insurance Quote
To find the best identity theft coverage, including if you can get a discount with your existing insurance policies, talk to Wolfgram Insurance. We’re in North Prairie, WI, and help the surrounding community with all of our neighbors’ insurance needs.