How are you protecting your personal information? Are you taking all the appropriate steps to prevent your details from ending up in the wrong hands? And is that enough to prevent identity theft? Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of having their identities stolen. While you might believe you are doing everything you can to prevent this situation from happening, there are still a variety of steps you can take to ensure you’re protected against criminals.
What can you do? Our team has put together this quick guide with what you need to know about identity theft, including a few options to help keep it from happening to you.
What is Identity Theft?
Before learning how to protect yourself from identity theft, it is important to understand what it actually is. In simple terms, identity theft comes in many forms and is essentially any situation where someone else uses your personal information or assumes your likeness for some sort of gain. Depending on the reason, this can be for financial reasons or just personal satisfaction.
As an example, imagine someone stealing photos of your wedding off your social media profile and then using those images to open a new one to pretend to be you. This is one form of identity theft. Other common instances include using your social security number or other financial details to open a credit card without your permission or utilizing your social security number to sign a lease contract on an apartment.
Your Identity Isn’t Safe
In case you didn’t know, your identity is not safe. It doesn’t matter if you’re shopping at your favorite home improvement store, browsing social media, or grabbing lunch with friends at your favorite fast-casual chain. You’re providing companies like Home Depot, Facebook, and Panera with personal details such as your name, address, and credit card numbers. These organizations are three who have seen large-scale data breaches in recent years.
Data breaches are so commonplace that it’s estimated that nearly every American’s personally identifiable information is already on the dark web. While this is incredibly scary to think about, it means that your friends, relatives, and neighbors have all had information and financial details stolen at some time.
How to Prevent Identity Theft Damage
Of course, that also means it isn’t possible to prevent identity theft. Rather, you must take certain steps to help keep damage from happening should a breach occur. This means it is incredibly important to spot warning signs early.
You can do this by subscribing to credit monitoring services, either through a third-party vendor, your local bank, or the large credit bureaus. If you notice any unauthorized changes or start to become concerned that a case of identity theft has happened, contact your local authorities to file a report as soon as possible.
Understanding ID Theft Insurance
Thankfully, there’s an additional layer of protection available. If you weren’t aware, there’s a special type of insurance coverage available that helps assist financially in the event your identity is stolen. While it doesn’t pay for costs associated with someone charging debt in your name, it can help with those associated with clearing your name and restoring your credit file.
While the thought of having your identity stolen is both scary, it is a possible reality. Instead of worrying about when or if it will happen, it’s a much better idea to take steps like those listed here to keep it from occurring.
Want to learn more about identity theft insurance coverage and protecting your personal information? Contact our team of insurance experts at Heinen & Associates.