Identity Protection: The Basics

Simple Steps to Ensure Your Safety Identity theft has become a huge concern for consumers in recent years. This is evident by the novel idea of identity theft insurance, which reimburses any losses caused by identity theft.

Identity theft can sometimes go unnoticed if the theft is small, or it can cost consumers tens of thousands of dollars and ruin credit scores for years. Below is information about identity protection to help reduce the risk of identity theft.

Protecting Person Information

  • Shredders -- Junk mail and other personal and work papers often contain information that thieves can use to gain access to financial information. A medium grade cross-cut shredder for junk mail, credit card offers, and other papers is a good step to helping reduce the risk if identity theft. Some shredders can also shred expired credit cards, which is important. Scissors also work well to destroy old credit cards, insuring the name and magnetic strip are thoroughly split apart.
  • Online -- Limiting what information is revealed to persons online and typed into websites is crucial to identity protection. Social security numbers should never be used online, and credit cards should only be used on trusted websites.
  • Physical Protection -- A lost wallet or purse can very easily lead to identity theft. All credit and bank cards should be kept track of on a list at home, along with the contact numbers to report them lost or stolen. Any lost or stolen cards should be reported immediately. Social security cards and other unused cards should not be carried around. Often consumers only need a few credit cards on a regular basis, which reduces the hassle of a lost wallet or purse. A safe or lockbox, which is also fire proof, is a good investment for anything kept at home that contains any personal or financial information.
  • Credit Reports -- Consumers need to take advantage of the recent availability of free credit reports. Credit reporting agencies are not required to give you your credit score for free, but these are not necessary. These free reports list credit accounts, with their available credit and any bad activity. Looking through these as often as possible is helpful in finding and reporting any identity theft activity. It is also a good idea to periodically check children's credit for any activity. Thieves have learned they can use accounts in children's names without being noticed until they reach the age of 18, as credit cards are applied for or cars are purchased.

Identity Theft Insurance

Identity theft insurance is a relatively new concept, which guarantees reimbursement if monetary damage were to occur from identity theft. As with all insurance policies, these require relatively small annual or monthly payments and have a higher payout if something were to occur. Identity theft insurance is very similar to the way house, car, and life insurance agencies are operated.

As with all insurance policies that are optional, consumers need to evaluate the risk involved. As statistics show higher rates of identity theft, and more aspects of our lifestyles become computer related, this type of insurance may become as common as other insurances.

Consumers that do all of their shopping and banking online are at a higher risk for identity theft and should consider investing in insurance. It is not uncommon for consumers that have never shopped online to still fall victim, though. The peace of mind with being insured can be enough for consumers, regardless of their Internet usage level.

When purchasing insurance, different policies should be compared between providers, and all of the policy details should be reviewed before purchasing.

About the Author

Thomas Donchez

Thomas Donchez

Contributing Writer

Thomas Donchez is a graduate of East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania, where he earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Security and Computer Science. Tom is currently working toward his Masters Degree in Computer Science and resides near Allentown, PA.

With a strong background in computer security and great interest in current trends, Tom enjoys writing on security related topics. His recent research includes rootkit detection and advanced steganography methods, and his thesis work relates to network traffic analysis and reporting. Tom also spent three years as an ASP.NET web developer.

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