Is your Identity Safe?
Identity Theft: What to know and what to do.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft happens when someone steals your personal information and uses it without your permission.
Identity theft is a serious crime. It can disrupt your finances, credit history, and reputation. If identity theft happens to you, it can take time, money, and patience to resolve.
Identity thieves might:
- Go through trash cans and dumpsters, stealing bills and documents that have sensitive information
- Work for businesses, medical offices, or government agencies, and steal personal information on the job.
- Misuse the name of a legitimate business, and call or send emails that trick you into revealing personal information.
- Pretend to offer a job, a loan, or an apartment, and ask you to send personal information to "qualify"
- Steal your wallet, purse, backpack, or mail, and remove your credit cards, driver's license, passport, health insurance card, and other items that show personal information.
Red Flags of Identity Theft
- Mistakes on your bank, credit card, or other account statements
- Mistakes on the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan
- Your regular bills and account statements don't arrive on time
- Bills or collection notices for products or services you never received
- Calls from debt collectors about debts that don't belong to you
- A notice from the IRS that someone used your Social Security number
- Mail, email or calls about accounts or jobs in your minor child's name
- Unwarranted collection notices on your credit report
- Businesses turn down your checks
- You are turned down unexpectedly for a loan or job
How to Protect Your Information
- Read your credit reports. You have a right to a free credit report every 12 months from each of three nationwide credit reporting companies. Order all three reports at once, or order one report every four months. To order, go to annualcreditreport.com or call 1-877-322-8228.
- Read your bank, credit card, and account statements, and the explanation of medical benefits from your health plan. If a statement has mistakes or doesn't come on time, contact the business.
- Shred all documents that show personal, financial, and medical information before you throw them away.
- Don't respond to email, text, and phone messages that ask for personal information. Legitimate companies don't ask for information this way. Delete the messages.
- Create password that mix letters, numbers, and special characters. Don't use the same password for more than one account.
- If you shop or bank online, use websites that protect your financial information with encryption. An encrypted site has "https" at the beginning of the web address; "s" is for secure.
- If you use a public wireless network, don't send information to any website that isn't fully encrypted.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software, and a firewall on your computer.
- Set your computer's operating system, web browser, and security system to update automatically.
One other source for added protection, is by adding an Identity Theft feature on to your existing home owner's policy through your insurance company. There are a wide range of coverage options available, depending on which insurance company provider you have. By adding an Identity Theft feature to your policy, it may provide some, if not all, of the following.
- Id Theft Counselor
- Cost of obtaining credit bureau reports
- Fees when reapplying for loans, grants, or other credit instruments
- Phone, postage, and shipping fees
- Notary and filing fees for costs you incur to correct your identity and credit records
- Certain legal fees resulting from identity fraud
- Deduction or service fees from financial institutions and other costs to recover control over your personal identity
- Lost wages and child and elder care expenses
This rider on your insurance can be a very low additional cost to your existing homeowners policy. Just contact your insurance provider to find out specific details.
Legal Information and Disclosures
This memorandum expresses the views of the author as of the date indicated and such views are subject to change without notice. HFG Trust has no duty or obligation to update the information contained herein. Further, HFG Trust makes no representation, and it should not be assumed that past investment performance is an indication of future results. Moreover, wherever there is potential profit there is the possibility of loss. This memorandum is being made available for educational purposes only and should not be used for any other purpose. The information contained herein does not constitute and should not be construed as an offering of advisory services or an offer to sell or solicit and securities or related financial instruments in any jurisdiction. Certain information contained herein concerning economic trends and performance is based on or derived from information provided by independent third-party sources. HFG Trust believes that the sources from which such information has be obtained are reliable; however, it cannot guarantee the accuracy of such information and has not independently verified the accuracy or completeness of such information or the assumptions on which such information is based. This memorandum, included the information contained herein, may not be coped, reproduced, republished, or posted in any form without the prior written consent of HFG Trust.