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Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft Protection Services - Protect Yourself from ID & Credit Fraud

Identity theft occurs when someone steals your personal information or uses your credit accounts without your permission. At risk information could be Social Security Numbers, date of birth, bank account numbers, credit card numbers, login and password credentials, and name and address. Identity fraud occurs when this information is used to make fraudulent purchases or withdrawals, create new accounts (credit cards, bank, phone, utilities, and loans) or change existing accounts.

Identity theft is a growing problem - and smart consumers know they can't rely completely on an identity theft service to "take care" of the issue. Consumers must act themselves, including shredding documents that bear personal information before disposal, being careful online and only using secured sites, and never giving out personal information unless absolutely necessary. But that's just not enough. You should also sign up for a service that will monitor the Internet for the unauthorized use of your personal information and does what you can't - monitor the Internet 24/7. SmartCredit® does this and will notify you immediately if any unauthorized activity is discovered.

Becoming a victim of identity theft requires an investment of time and money to correct your records. It can also destroy your credit. Identity theft has been the number one consumer complaint to the Federal Trade Commission for eleven consecutive years.

Common Methods

Identity theft is a criminal act and is considered a felony. The most common methods of stealing identities are:

  • Skimming information from credit card or ATM cards
  • Paper mail theft
  • Hacking computer networks and databases
  • Redundant IT equipment (failure to remove passwords and personal information)
  • "Shoulder surfing" watching login credentials over users' shoulders
  • Dumpster diving, stealing personal data out of your garbage
  • Using stolen credit cards
Identity Theft Facts
  • One in every ten American consumers has been a victim of identity theft
  • Approximately 1.6 million households have had their bank accounts and/or debit cards compromised
  • Nearly 50% of victims learn of their identities stolen within three months
  • About 15% of victims don't learn of their identities being stolen for four or more years
  • Average amount taken from each identity theft victim amounts to $4,841 (approximately three months' worth of full-time worker's wages)
  • Out of pocket expenses for a victim to resolve identity theft damage ranges from $851 to $1,378
  • Average time it takes to repair the damage done by identity theft is 330 hours or, said another way, over eight work weeks
  • In some cases, it takes up to 5,840 hours to fully correct the damage done from the theft, which is equivalent to working full time for two years
  • Approximately 70% of victims that have difficulty removing negative information stemming from the theft from their credit reports
  • Estimates have it that 1/3rd of identity theft cases are perpetrated by family or friends of the victim
  • 25.9 million Americans now carry identity theft insurance
  • 43% of identity fraud cases were spotted by consumers that monitored their accounts; those that use electronic methods had lower than average out-of-pocket costs
How to Protect Yourself
  • When your Social Security Number is requested, ask if you can give alternate information
  • Don't give your credit card or bank account numbers to anyone over the phone unless you initiated the call
  • Shred sensitive documents, all of them
  • Install anti-virus software and update regularly
  • Always secure digital information behind passwords
  • Never click on links in emails and then log into your accounts, go directly to the website from outside the email
  • Change your passwords often
  • Turn off your cell phone's blue tooth and Wi-Fi when not in use
  • Monitor bank accounts at least weekly, preferably daily
  • Sign up for available mobile or email alerts by your institution
  • Monitor credit reports to spot unauthorized activity
  • Notify your creditors and the credit reporting agencies immediately if you card has been lost or stolen
  • Work through your bank and protection service provider to report problems immediately
  • Use available services to restore the worthiness of your accounts and credit
  • Take full advantage of your financial provider's offers of loss

In this digital era, people are more connected than ever before. While the increased connectivity has made communication more accessible, it has made things like identity theft much easier, as well. Though identity theft is something that can happen to anyone, knowing how to protect your identity can help prevent it from happening to you.

In 2017, more than 16 million people were impacted by identity theft, accounting for nearly $17 billion in stolen money. The need for identity theft insurance and monitoring has become more critical than it ever has been before.

However, not many people are aware of what identity theft insurance and monitoring services are, or how they can use it to protect their personal information.

Identity theft is a growing concern for every consumer. If you're concerned about the growing risk of data breaches and identity theft, you may want to consider signing up for identity theft insurance and monitoring services.

In case you may not be familiar with what these services offer, we're going to discuss everything there is to know about identity theft insurance and monitoring.

Identity theft is a crime in which personal or financial information is stolen for the purpose of assuming someone else's identity to make transactions or purchases without their authorization.

Once the information has been taken, cybercriminals can then ruin a person's credit history by opening accounts in their name and abandoning the debts. They may also accomplish this by selling the person's information to others for a similar purpose.

Identity theft is committed in several different ways.

Child Identity Theft

Child identity theft is when a child's identity is stolen, and then used to apply for lines of credit in the child's name. Because of how early the identity is stolen, it is not typically discovered until the victim applies for lines of credit of their own.

This form of identity theft is quite common, as there generally is no information associated with the child's name at the time of it being stolen, posing no obstacles for the perpetrator to use it for their personal gain.

Synthetic Identity Theft

Synthetic identity theft is when an identity thief uses a combination of personal information to create a credit profile that doesn't exist. This is often done by using a social security number and name combination that has not yet been created in the credit reporting agency's database and allows them to apply for lines of credit and disappear without a trace.

Because of the nature of this crime, it is increasingly difficult to prevent.

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft is when someone else's identity is used to receive health care services. This particular type of identity theft is rather dangerous as it can result in either incorrect or mixed data being reported to the credit bureaus, thus later providing medical facilities with incorrect credit report information about a person as they are trying to make critical health care decisions.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by reading your benefits statement and checking for claims or payments that you don't recognize and reporting them to your insurance company.

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft is when a perpetrator provides law enforcement authorities with someone else's name and address during an arrest or criminal investigation. This can be done in several ways but is most often done by using a fake driver's license or government-issued identification card.

This type of identity theft is also tough to prevent, and much of the responsibility of the aftermath falls on the shoulders of the victim.

Credit Identity Theft

Credit identity theft occurs when someone's personal information is used to apply for a new line of credit. This is commonly seen in unexpected changes in someone's credit scores and in unrecognizable account openings or inquiries on credit reports.

Account Takeover

Account takeover is when an identity thief uses personal data to gain unauthorized access to someone's financial accounts and then makes changes to the account either through unauthorized purchases, or by changing the login credentials or personal information on the account.

While this is particularly difficult to prevent, the best way to take action against it is by carefully analyzing any emails, letters, or messages from your financial institution. If you see any actions being performed that you did not authorize, contact them immediately.

Though protecting yourself from identity theft can seem complicated due to the various natures in which it is committed, there are several actionable steps you can start taking today to prevent it from happening to you.

Check Your Credit Report

As a consumer, you are allowed to receive one free credit report from each of the three major credit reporting agencies once a year.

The best way to check your credit report regularly throughout the year is by becoming a member of SmartCredit® and having your credit monitored 24/7. Additionally, SmartCredit®'s identity fraud insurance gives you peace of mind that you are insured should you become the victim of identity fraud.

When checking your credit report, there are several things you should be looking for.

  • Inactive accounts that suddenly show activity.
  • Any unauthorized opening of a line of credit.
  • Inaccurate personal information.
  • Credit inquiries you did not apply for.

If you notice anything in your credit report that is strange, inaccurate, or anything you did not authorize, notify the credit reporting agency who issued your credit report immediately to dispute the error and resolve the issue as quickly as possible. You can easily do this with the push of a button with SmartCredit®'s Action Buttons.

Update Your Computer's Antivirus Software

As identity thieves acquire new technology to commit identity theft crimes, it is critical that you also stay up to date with antivirus software on your computer. With new updates in antivirus software, you can stay better protected from attacks such as malware and keylogger software that hackers use to gain unauthorized access to your personal information.

While it may not seem like a big step, when you consider how much personal data is on your computer, doing this can give you tremendous peace of mind.

Never Use Unsecured Wi-Fi

With more places offering customers free Wi-Fi, it's tempting for many to conduct business in locations such as local coffee shops and diners. Though it may seem attractive, unsecured, public wi-fi is an identity thief's dream as they can quickly gain access to the open network and easily steal your personal information.

If you do need to use public wi-fi, try to hold off on logging into private websites while on the network.

Change Passwords Every 90 Days

Yes, we know how much of a hassle this sounds like, but this is possibly one of the best ways to prevent identity thieves from gaining access to bank accounts and email login credentials. When creating a password, use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as special characters.

Additionally, consider making your passwords longer than the minimum character count and use a string of random words that aren't easy for a hacker to guess.

Freeze Your Credit File

Another way to prevent identity theft from happening to you is by freezing your credit file with all three major credit reporting agencies when you are not actively seeking new lines of credit. Freezing your credit file will restrict access to your credit accounts so that new accounts cannot be opened without first unfreezing your file.

However, if you would rather not go through the time-consuming task of freezing and unfreezing your file, another alternative is by purchasing identity theft insurance and monitoring services to alert you of any unusual activity with your credit, such as SmartCredit®.

Identity theft can be a tragedy when it happens and can often take years if not more to recover from. SmartCredit® helps you take actionable steps to stop identity theft from devastating your credit. Sign up with SmartCredit® today to learn more.

While no product can 100% prevent identity theft from occurring, with the help of SmartCredit® identity theft insurance and monitoring services, you can be sure that your credit accounts are always being monitored and that you have the added insurance and monitoring of recovery services at your disposal.

Not only will this service watch out for any potential signs of identity theft, it will also alert you if anything does occur, as well as help you deal with the ramifications in the aftermath.

When looking for identity theft insurance and monitoring, there are two types of monitoring services.

Credit Monitoring

Credit monitoring allows you to track activity on your credit reports. If you see any activity that is unusual or that you did not authorize, you can then take actionable steps to resolve the problem before it becomes worse.

Identity Theft Monitoring

SmartCredit®'s ID monitoring service alerts you whenever your personal information is being used in ways that may impact your credit reports, such as change of address requests, orders for new utility services, and payday loan applications.

Identity Recovery

In the event that identity theft occurs, identity recovery services will contact the necessary credit reporting agencies to set up obstacles to prevent further loss from occurring and help you in recovering anything that was lost in the process.

If you are a victim of identity theft, your first step should be to contact the Federal Trade Commission as quickly as possible to alert the necessary authorities of the fraud that took place.

Once the authorities have been contacted, the next step will be to place a fraud alert on all of your credit reports so that any new accounts opened in your name will receive added scrutiny.

Additionally, you might also want to consider adding a credit freeze so that no more credit is used without your authorization.

Even with the added precaution, identity theft can still happen to anyone. In the event that it happens to you, know that you not only have insurance and monitoring against potential ramifications, but you also have a service that will help you get your life back.

Enroll in SmartCredit® today to help insure yourself from identity theft and rest assured that all the insurance and id monitoring service you need is one click away.