By Anita Byer, Setnor Byer Insurance & Risk
The likelihood of identity theft seems to increase daily. With so many identities being stolen, many believe it’s a matter of when, not if. Taking preventative measures is crucial to reducing the likelihood of being a victim, but nothing is foolproof. When identity theft does happen, early detection is the key to limiting the damage. The sooner you know, the better. But, how do you know when your identity has been stolen? It can be harder than you think.
Fortunately, the Federal Trade Commission offered some helpful advice during this year’s Identity Theft Awareness Week. According to the FTC, you need to understand how thieves might use your stolen identity and be on the lookout for signs.
An identity thief could use your information to get credit or service in your name.
How to spot it: Get your free credit report at AnnualCreditReport.com. Review it for accounts you didn’t open or inquiries you don’t recognize. A new credit card, a personal loan or a car loan will appear as a new account. A new cell phone plan or utility service (water, gas, electric) will show up as an inquiry.
An identity thief could use your credit card or take money out of your bank account.
How to spot it: Check your credit card or bank statement when you get it. Look for purchases or withdrawals you didn’t make. Sign up to get text or email alerts from your credit card or bank whenever there’s a new transaction. This could help you spot unauthorized or fraudulent activity on your account.
An identity thief could steal your tax refund or use your Social Security number to work.
How to spot it: A notice from the IRS that there’s more than one tax return filed in your name could be a sign of tax identity theft. So could a notice that you have income from an employer you don’t work for.
An identity thief could use your health insurance to get medical care.
How to spot it: Review your medical bills and Explanation of Benefits statements for services you didn’t get. They could be a sign of medical identity theft.
An identity thief could use your information to file a claim for unemployment benefits.
How to spot it: A notice from your state unemployment office or employer about unemployment benefits that you didn’t apply for could be a sign of fraud.
When preventative measures fail, insurance is available to help victims through the expensive and time-consuming process of recovery. Please contact us if you would like more information about insurance specifically designed to protect against identity theft.