How To Avoid Identity Theft:
The online world is constantly evolving and moving towards a situation where all things become digital. The disadvantage of the digital evolution is a steep increase in identity theft.
In 2017, the total number of victims of identity theft in the U.S. alone totalled 16.7 million. Many strategy and research firms predict that identity theft will grow in numbers worldwide in the years to come.
In this article, I’ll explain what identity theft is, insurance offerings in relation to ID theft and how you can avoid identity theft.
What Is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is a form of fraud. It happens when someone steals your personal information and then pretends to be you, often for financial gain.
Identity theft usually means that either your full name, email address, login details, ID card number, passport number or bank/credit card details are stolen. Cyber criminals who commit identity theft could potentially sell the information or abuse it themselves.
Also Watch: 5 Steps for Victims of ID theft
Identity Theft Insurance
There are various options for purchasing an identity theft insurance package. You could either purchase one through an insurance company, agent, credit bureau, credit card companies, specific identity theft companies or your bank and credit union.
Obviously, different packages will cover up to certain amount and usually start at $4 to $8 per month for the most basic package up to $25 to $30 per month for full coverage.
Consider the following topics when browsing through different packages:
- Services included
Research what’s included in the insurance policy in regards to services offered to reimburse the direct costs, as well as the indirect costs such as recovery work and time required to restore your situation.
- What’s the deductible?
It’s quite common for insurance companies to have a deductible stated the policy. Deductibles typically range from $100 too $600. Thus, if the expenses to repair your identity are lower than deductible stated in the policy, you may not have any expenses reimbursed.
- Indirect coverage of expenses
Most insurance policies clearly state what direct expenses are covered but indirect costs such as loss of time, wages or legal expenses are often buried deep in the text. Hiring legal expertise is costly and may need to be approved by the insurance company first.
In most cases, only premium insurance packages include such costs.
7 Tips on How to Avoid Identity Theft
In addition to purchasing an ID theft insurance package, you can minimize the risk of falling victim to identity theft by following the tips stated below on how to avoid it in the first place.
1. Keep Transaction Receipts
It’s important to keep ATM and credit card purchase receipts safe and always accept them at the counter or ATM machine. Don’t simply throw receipts in a public trash or leave them in a public area where it can easily get stolen.
2. Shred Paperwork
Many instances of identity happen offline. Many identity fraudsters know that public garbage cans and dumpsters are a goldmine of financial paperwork, bills, bank or credit card statements and other document that contain personal information. It’s therefore essential to purchase a shredder machine to destroy important documents, paperwork and financial statements.
3. Install Protection Software
The first phase to avoid online identity theft is to make sure your computer, laptop or mobile device are properly protected with antivirus and anti-malware software. In addition, make sure that every device runs on the latest software version as security vulnerabilities are generally patched out in software updates.
4. Protect Your Passwords
Writing down your password on paper might seem like a dull thing to do but it’s extremely effective in the current digital world. Many people store important passwords in an insecure environment on their device, which leaves them wide open to hackers and cyber criminals.
If you decide to store your passwords online, make sure that it’s encrypted and unreadable to hackers. LastPass is a great password manager that uses complete end-to-end encryption, which means that even your password stored on their server is in encrypted form – even LastPass doesn’t know your password.
5. Two-Factor Authentication
If possible, always use two-factor authentication to secure your accounts. Two-factor authentication enables a strong second layer of security as you can only login to accounts with the help of another device.
For example, if you login to your bank account on your laptop, you’ll receive a 2nd unique – and often time-limited – code on your mobile phone to check whether it’s really you who’s logging in.
Hackers would only be able to login if they physically own the 2nd device.
6. Monitor Your Accounts
Constantly monitor your own bank and credit card accounts for transactions you didn’t perform – don’t only rely on automatic notifications of your credit card company or bank.
7. Tread Carefully Online
When browsing online – especially when you shop online – and enter sensitive information, make sure to only visit secure websites. You can recognize secure websites by the green padlock in the browser bar and the “HTTPS” sign.