Keep your money and your personal information safe online and in the real world.
“We demand convenience over security,” said Eva Velasquez, CEO of the Identity Theft Resource Center, a nonprofit that helps people dealing with ID fraud. Few people would disagree; how many times have you had to slow down and hunt for a password to get somewhere online? But making it easier for you to access your bank accounts, and your insurance policy, makes it easier for thieves, too.
You may never know when your identity is stolen — it could be at a restaurant, when the waiter takes your credit card to pay for the meal. Or it could be at a major retailer, like Target or Macy’s, both of which have been victims of wide-ranging identity theft, where thousands or millions of people’s personal information has been taken.
Identity theft can have long-lasting consequences. One financial journalist told his readers it took three years
to clear his name. Another man
said he couldn’t renew his driver’s license because an identity thief swapped the man’s photo for his own.
If you are an identity theft victim, you’ll know right away — at least as soon as you’re sent bills for items you didn’t buy, denials of loan applications, or when your application for a credit card is refused. Make sure your friends and neighbors are safe, too; senior citizens work with many doctors and other caregivers, all of whom could potentially steal their identity.
What can you do to prevent identity theft?
- Don’t share personal information unless you have to. If you’re requested to provide a Social Security or bank account number, ask if it’s really needed. Many times, it isn’t.
- Pay attention to your bills. If they don’t arrive when you expect, reach out to the company or person who sends them so they can find out where your bill is.
- Don’t just throw out receipts or credit card offers you don’t need any longer; make sure they’re shredded.
- Get your computer up to date with the latest virus protection software and firewalls. Be careful when you’re online so you’re not a victim of a computer identity theft.
Take a few moments to make sure you’re protected before you give out personal information, or leave it exposed for thieves to find.
Learn more about what Hastings Mutual can do for you to guard against identity theft, and ask your independent insurance agent about our homeowners and farmowners coverage.