Even around Columbus, WI, you’ve probably seen news stories about identity theft. Some recent examples include a local hospital data breach and a resident who used stolen identities to cash bad checks. Of course, large incidents that impacted national organizations, like credit bureaus, have also struck plenty of people in town. You may wonder if there’s a good way to protect yourself against this threat.
Protecting Yourself Against Common Types of Identity Theft
The popularity of online shopping and banking has increased the opportunity for criminals to steal personal information that they can use to profit. Sadly, their profits can translate into major losses for you in terms of money, reduced credit scores, and even reputations. Almost anybody can get targeted when identity thieves hack into the databases of credit bureaus, national retail chains, or major healthcare networks. Still, all identity thieves don’t work online. Plenty of these kinds of crimes happen on the phone, by mail, or even in person.
In many cases, people who had their identity stolen don’t even know they’ve become victims until they see a sharp drop in their credit scores or notice charges for things that they never purchased. Just because it takes time to discover that you’ve been victimized and the many forms that this kind of crime may take, it’s hard to guarantee that you’re protected.
Still, you should take these sensible steps to reduce the risk of losses:
- Be extra careful about offering your sensitive information over the phone, on the web, or even to people you meet in person. The thieves will use credit card, social security, insurance, addresses, and even your drivers license numbers to steal your identity.
- Your best defense may include proactively monitoring your credit and financial statements often. You can do this manually, but you might also use a credit monitoring service that can alert you automatically whenever somebody accesses your credit. These days, some financial companies offer this service to their customers.
- If you do believe you’ve become a target, it’s important for you to act as quickly as possible to minimize damage and recover from it. You may have to dispute charges with stores, banks, credit card companies, and other providers. In the best case, this will take time, and in the worst cases, you may need legal assistance.
How Can Identity Theft Protection Plans Help?
Because identity theft has grown into such a pervasive problem, some companies have started to offer a kind of coverage called identity theft protection. These plans mostly exist to help defray losses when you repair the damage caused by identity thieves.
As with other types of protection, they will vary between companies and levels of benefits. Typically, they include:
- Coverage for costs that you might incur when you spend money and time repairing your identity after you’ve become a victim of identity theft
- Guidance from company representatives to help you proceed with the correct steps in the right order
- Sometimes, coverage for legal bills, credit monitoring, and other useful tools
How to Choose the Right Identity Theft Protection Plan
If you decide to invest in an identity theft protection plan, you should shop around for the company that offers you the best value. For instance, you can purchase standalone plans from businesses that specialize in this kind of protection. On the other hand, many people choose to include it with renters or homeowners insurance policies.
Here at Anton Insurance in Columbus, WI, we have worked with plenty of clients to find the best combination of insurance to suit their requirements, lifestyle, and budget. To find out more about identity theft protection and other types of insurance coverage, contact us here by email or phone. We’ll help you compare plans, choose the best options, and stand by you if you ever do need to make claims.