Protecting yourself from identity theft

2 minute read Published on Dec 1, 2014 by BrokerLink Communications

Although your identity can be compromised anytime of the year, the holiday season is when credit cards are used and financial information is exchanged more frequently. Learn how you can protect yourself and the benefits of having identity theft insurance.

How does it happen?

Credit card theft is the highest reported type of identity theft and most of the time it takes place without the thieves ever touching your card. Skimming is a process where your credit or debit card number is stolen through a device attached to a legitimate payment processor. The skimmer secretly records the card data as you insert your card into the real scanner.

Your identity may also be stolen online through “phishing,” which occurs when someone sends you a pop-up or spam message claiming to be an institution asking for your personal information.

Never respond to an email, online message or phone call that asks for your personal information, even if it appears to be from a trusted institution. Contact your institution directly to confirm if the request is legitimate.

What can be done to protect my identity?

  • Always ask how your personal information will be used, why it is needed, who will be sharing it and how it will be safeguarded. Don’t be afraid to refuse to give information until you’ve confirmed it will be stored safely.
  • Share very little. If you need to share your personal information, keep it to a minimum. Only carry mandatory cards in your wallet
  • Only provide your credit card number to trusted individuals or businesses you are communicating with online or over the telephone.
  • Pay attention to your billing cycle. If your credit card or utility bills do not arrive on time, contact the companies to ensure your mail has not been redirected. Access your credit report from an authorized reporting agency once a year to ensure it’s accurate and doesn’t include unauthorized activities.
  • Notify creditors immediately if your identification or credit cards are lost or stolen.
  • Put passwords on personal files and update them regularly. Choose difficult passwords – not your pet or mother’s maiden name. Memorize and change them often. Don’t write them down and leave them in your wallet, or some equally obvious place.
  • Key in personal identification numbers privately when you use direct purchase terminals, bank machines, or telephones.
  • Be careful what you throw out in the garbage. Shred personal financial information such as statements, credit card offers, receipts and insurance forms you no longer require.

What is identity theft insurance?

Identity theft insurance is designed to take care of you and your identity before, during, and after you’re attacked. Insurers can add identity theft insurance to your existing insurance policy for your home, condo or apartment. Premiums start from $35.00 per year and can be discounted even further if it’s bundled with property insurance. The services provided apply to you, your spouse and relatives living in the same household. Dependants that are students temporarily living away from home while attending school are included as well.

Coverage pays the fees associated with ordering new identification, reapplying to loans if rejected due to incorrect information, and covering your lost income from missing work. Depending on the carrier, identity theft insurance can also include a 24/7 identity theft assistance line and legal assistance for victims of identity theft.

Speak to a BrokerLink Insurance Advisor today about how you can better protect yourself and learn more about having identity theft insurance added to your coverage.