Did you know that identity theft fuels more complaints to the Federal Trade Commission than any other consumer issue? In particular, Minnesotans lost hundreds of thousands to just one type of identity theft scam. To protect yourself, learn more about identity theft and what steps you can take to reduce your risks.
Common Kinds of Identity Theft Scams
You might associate identity theft with computers. Certainly, some identity thieves have targeted the databases of large companies to steal customers’ payment and personal information. As another example, criminals will create spoof websites that look the same as legitimate banking or retail sites to trick people into entering personal information. They may use this information to take out loans in your name, create false identification cards, or even stick you with tax bills for money you did not earn. As the use of computers rises, so does online identity theft.
However, criminals also commonly use the phone to gather private information. In fact, KSTP TV in Minneapolis reported that residents of just one city, Eagan, Minnesota, lost almost half a million dollars to phone scams. Callers will pretend to represent a government organization or business in order to collect driver’s license, social security, and credit card numbers. Sometimes, they even pretend to be somebody the person they called knows well and asks for money to get out of a jam. In order to make their scam more convincing, the thieves employ technology that can send a local phone number to the recipient’s caller ID.
In response to these phone scams, the state legislature plans to create new laws to help combat the use of automated phone systems to make illicit calls. This legislation should also give law enforcement more tools to combat these crimes. Even so, you should exercise caution before handing over any sensitive information to a stranger on the phone. You can always tell the caller that you would prefer to call back on a listed number because of your concerns. A legitimate caller should not object.
Protecting Yourself From Identity Theft
If you’re prudent, you’ll take care before entering your private information on a website or even discussing it on the phone or in person. Still, identity thieves have gotten very clever, and they’ve fooled a lot of smart, prudent people. Also, you can’t always be certain that each business or even government office is invulnerable. As an extra measure, you might invest a few dollars a year in identity theft insurance.
These plans vary, but they typically will compensate you for the time and money you need to spend to clear your name, debts you never incurred, and your credit. Some will also pay bills for any legal assistance that you might require. As a rule, they won’t repay you for any money that you have already lost. Still, they can keep you from losing even more money by freezing your credit and alerting businesses to the fraud.
Where to Learn More About Identity Theft Insurance
Here at Patriot Insurance, we have helped many members of our community understand and protect themselves from identity theft. You can purchase identity theft insurance as an option on many homeowners or renters policies or as a standalone plan. Contact us today with your questions about identity theft protection. As your insurance advocate, we can help you find high-quality, affordable protection and stand by your side if you ever do have to make claims.