ID Theft: Protecting Your Identity
Identity theft affects nearly nine million Americans each year. It can be as simple as stealing a credit card number and running up the balance with fraudulent charges – or a more complex scheme that includes using your identity (name, date of birth, social security number, etc.) to steal from your bank account, take out a loan, or even commit to an apartment lease using your information.
Monitor Your Account for Identity Theft
A simple step that you can take for identity theft protection is to closely and regularly monitor your bank and credit card account activity. The sooner you identify suspicious activity on your account, the quicker it will be to recover from the ID theft. Keep in mind that fraudulent charges aren’t always for large purchases. Often times, credit card thieves will attempt to push through a number of low dollar amount charges that go unnoticed individually, but add up over a sustained period.
You should also speak proactively to your bank and/or credit card company to understand what type of automated monitoring services are available for you to activate on your account. In many cases, you can request that your financial institution notify you should your balance increase by a certain percentage or if there is an increase in the number of transactions over a specified period.
What If I’m a Victim of ID Theft?
According to the FTC, it's important to protect your personal information, and to take certain steps quickly to minimize the potential damage from identity theft if your information is accidentally disclosed or deliberately stolen:
- Place a "Fraud Alert" on your credit reports, and review those reports carefully. Notifying one of the three nationwide consumer reporting companies is sufficient.
- Close any accounts that have been tampered with or established fraudulently.
- File a police report with local law enforcement officials. This is an essential step in claiming your rights.
- Report your theft to the Federal Trade Commission, online, by phone, or by mail.
Where Can I Go For More Information on Identity Theft?
The federal government takes ID theft very seriously and makes a great deal of information available to the public online.
OnGuard Online provides tips from the government and the technology industry on how to help people be on guard against Internet fraud, secure their computers and protect personal information.
The Federal Trade Commission's website also offers a great deal of information, and it's the first place you should turn if you think that you may be the victim of ID theft.
Can Insurance Protect Me from ID Theft?
While identity theft insurance can’t prevent the crime from happening, it can minimize your losses and help you regain your good name after identity fraud.
Identity theft insurance from The Hartford is an optional coverage you can add to your existing Hartford homeowners, condo, or renters insurance policy. The Hartford will pay up to $15,000 for expenses, such as lost income and legal fees, incurred to regain your good name as the direct result of identity fraud.
To learn more about ID theft protection from The Hartford, call to speak with a Hartford representative at 1-888-413-8970.