Falling victim to identity theft scams can be a nightmare. With a single piece of information, an identity pirate can apply for credit cards and loans, use healthcare benefits or go on shopping sprees, destroying a good credit score that could take years to reestablish.
What many people fail to realize is that identity theft goes far beyond sharing your social security number and shopping online. Unfortunately, identity theft scams have become an economic epidemic, costing the U.S. billions of dollars annually, and as the crisis expands, thieves have become more innovative and creative in the ways they access private information.
Here are some scams you may have not even thought of, a breakdown of what you’re doing to put you at risk, and how AAA identity theft monitoring through Experian can help.
Chances are you’d be lost without your smartphone. You’ve stored usernames and passwords in it, both to financial and personal accounts, all of which would be accessible should your phone be lost or stolen. Reconsider where you store this important information or make sure that it is guarded with a secure password. Also, rethink accessing financial records with public Wi-Fi. If it’s convenient for you to log into your bank account on an unsecure network, it’s also convenient for a hacker.
Children are some of the most frequent victims of identity theft scams because of their squeaky clean credit. Many parents register their newborn children with Social Security for tax purposes, and then their credit accounts often go unmonitored, giving scammers the perfect opportunity to build up years of bad credit through unauthorized loans or credit card applications. A key sign that your child’s credit has been tampered with is the existence of a credit report. If your child has never used credit, he or she should not have a report. Click here to learn more.
Experian’s ChildSecure program, a membership benefit for AAA members, monitors your children’s credit and will notify you if there is any unauthorized activity on their accounts.
One of the most prevalent identity theft scams occurs when mail is disposed of improperly or stolen. Scammers frequently dig through mailboxes and trash looking for bank and credit card statements, pre-approved credit card offers and other financial information. Be sure to shred private documents before disposing of them, and if you have suspicions your mail is being tampered with, purchase a locking mailbox, empty it regularly and notify the U.S. Postal Service.
Skimming occurs when an electronic credit card swipe, such as those used by merchants and restaurants during sales transactions, also transports card information to a secondary electronic storage device for future, unauthorized use. Services such as those offered by Experian, provide daily monitoring of your three credit reports and sends periodic emails notifying you of any usage deemed questionable, providing assurance that if your credit card information is stolen, you’ll be aware of the situation in a timely manner and have assistance in preventing the problem from spreading further.
Moving leaves people incredibly vulnerable to identity theft scams as often times during the relocation process, financial information is left temporarily insecure. Be sure to transport paperwork in your own vehicle and secure it quickly when reaching your new home. Promptly change your address with the U.S. Postal Service, and be mindful of sharing your social security number on job and rental applications.
Many people are familiar with the headaches involved in losing a wallet and having to cancel credit cards, debit cards and get a new driver’s license, but losing a health insurance card can be just as problematic, as thieves can use this information to receive healthcare services in your name. Pay attention to benefit explanations service providers will send following a treatment and any notice stating a benefit limit has been reached or denying coverage for an unfamiliar condition.
Identity theft scams are scary, and it is important to know when you are at risk and the preventative measures to take to keep your information safe. Click here for an infographic on the alarming statistics related to ID theft in America.
With identity theft monitoring, you can rest assured that your credit information is under professional surveillance and expert assistance is available should you fall victim.Visit AAA.com/IDtheft to learn more.
By Molly Clark