Category: Identity Theft

Why Do I Need Identity Theft Insurance?

Identity Theft Insurance

We live in slightly paranoid times. It’s one of the side-effects of being so aware of what’s going on in our communities, our country, and our world, thanks to real-time news and a constant deluge of social media updates.

But if you’re like many who now feel compelled to shred every piece of junk mail, shield your screen while typing in your PIN number at a check-out stand, or delete any suspicious emails, you’re not alone in beginning to understand the scope of identity theft.

A study conducted this year by Javelin Strategy and Research for the Insurance Information Institute revealed that identity theft scammers stole $16 billion from a record 15.4 million American consumers in 2016 alone.

The previous year, identity theft impacted 13.1 million individuals, and researchers say that since 2010, identity theft has cost the country more than $100 billion.

Big Money, Real Problems

The scope of identity theft’s impact has made many consumers consider their options when it comes to identity theft insurance, one of many services provided by professional companies engaged in real-time credit monitoring and repair.

Identity theft dangers lurk everywhere, especially online, unfortunately, as a result of our increasing use of mobile technology for shopping, banking, and general everyday convenience.

While old-fashioned identity theft still occasionally occurs through discarded or stolen mail or improperly disposed bank records or credit card bills, the digital age means it’s actually easier for thieves to access your most important financial information.

We think very little of giving out credit information for online purchases or uploading our credit cards for use in the new wave of tap-and-go digital banking services, but a lost or stolen cell phone can now be an instant pipeline to all of our critical financial details.

Even a voice-activated digital assistant like Alexa or a similar service can create a potential pipeline for hackers to use to capture your information.

Online scammers have also become more aggressive in sending out incredibly authentic looking emails from legitimate looking addresses, asking us to reconfirm our banking details or provide address updates. They’re spam, and for those who fall victim, it’s often up to a credit fixer to help try to repair the damage.

Proactive Steps

It’s too late for most of us to retreat from the digital world, but we can certainly get a helping hand in keeping our data safe.

And identity theft insurance can also provide some peace of mind for those who fear the very real impact of identity theft, not to mention the nightmarish process of closing accounts, reconciling illegal purchases or dealing with the very serious implications identity theft can have on our credit reports and our credit scores.

Are you in the market for professional services to help with a credit fix? We can help provide information and real results.

You can carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

arrow Read this post

4 Ways to Create a Secure Password that You Will Remember

secure password

In an era of aggressive online hackers, some of whom have the ability to not only ruin your credit, but even to hold your personal data and identification for ransom, it’s critically important to consider your own digital safety.

Secure passwords are a critical element in that process, but how do you manage to create foolproof yet still memorable passwords to protect your online information? Here are some best practices:

Use Longer and Weirder Words

Experts suggest that the biggest keys to beating the anti-encryption malware used by hackers to break into your accounts are the use of very long passwords, and ones that avoid using regular places, names, or words.

To that end, your own name, your dog’s name, addresses or simple phrases may all be easy to remember, but they’re very easy for an outside party to guess or even derive from your other details. Data safety experts instead encourage you to go for longer phrases, with mixes of capitalization, punctuation, and numbers – with results that make it more challenging for electronic thieves to gain access.

And absolutely avoid old favorites like “password123” or “abcdef,” as easy as they may be to remember – they can be cracked in seconds.

Convert a Sentence into a Password

Early online expert Bruce Schneier’s advice is still useful, and it can help you actually remember your password: Think up a still-somewhat understandable sentence and use that to build a password composed of different capitalization, punctuation, and digits.

For example, So!eTtmW#5ppTts! (so excited that the man wore five purple pants to the store). It may sound silly and look ridiculous, but you’ll probably still remember it when re-entering your data online or on a website, and the mix of letters, numbers, and symbols will add extra security.

Create a “Seed” Phrase for a Digital Key

If you’ve done any complex online banking with a super-secure site such as Bitcoin, you’ll often need a phrase of seemingly disconnected words to help act as a digital entry point for your account. These phrases (the longer the better) are also suitable for other online use.

It will take some practice to remember a long, nonsense phrase – ideally 12 words, a length that makes it virtually unbreakable by hackers and their sophisticated cracking software – but the effort will mean a very strong security code that you can use to unlock your accounts.

Combine Phonetics and Memory

A random password generation website can help you find letter/number combos that you can turn into memorable phrases – they may sound funny, but you will still be able to use and memorize them.

Whatever method works for you, experts also suggest that you try the impossible and have different passwords for virtually every site and service that you need to access. A password management tool such as 1Password, LastPass, or even those provided by your smartphone can then offer an easier entry point – using one of the crack-proof phrases you’ve developed from the information above.

If you’ve been the victim of hacking or identity theft and you would like to enlist the professional services of credit lawyers to help rebuild your credit, contact us.

You can carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

arrow Read this post

Credit Card Chips Can Fall Out—And into the Wrong Hands

rebuilding credit

Protecting your personal information is important to protecting and repairing your credit. Security risks are everywhere, including your wallet. By now, you probably now have a credit or debit card that uses a chip. Those chips, however, can fall out of the plastic card. An intact chip could be placed onto another card, allowing an unauthorized person to access the account or personal information. Consumers should be aware of this issue to protect their security and identity.

When it comes to security, losing a credit card chip is equivalent to losing the entire card itself. Glue holds the chip in place, and normal wear and tear can loosen the adhesive. In an extreme scenario, a thief could remove a card’s chip and replace it with a dummy chip. With the stolen chip, a thief could make purchases without raising suspicion. Recovering from credit card theft is a time consuming process. Depending on the extent of the damage, the effects could have a long-term impact on your credit, especially if an account becomes delinquent.

Tips to Protect Yourself

Security risks always exist, but you can take measures to protect yourself. Bankrate compiled five easy techniques for consumers to protect their accounts and information:

  • Set up mobile banking alerts for your phone from your financial institution. You can discover unusual activity as quickly as possible.
  • Regularly monitor your accounts online. Being familiar with your activity can help identify fraudulent transactions faster.
  • Avoid public computers. Do not log on to your email if your bank corresponds with you there. Set up a separate email account just for your finances and checking it from safe locations.
  • Avoid doing business with unfamiliar online companies. Stick to established merchants and websites.
  • If your information has been compromised, notify your financial institutions and local law enforcement. Remember to notify any of the three credit bureaus—Experian, Equifax and TransUnion—to place a fraud alert on your credit reports.

Lexington Law can help you monitor and repair your credit. You can learn more here, and carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

Sources

http://abcnews.go.com/US/chips-potentially-fall-chip-credit-cards-leaving-consumers/story?id=49103435

http://abc7chicago.com/finance/credit-card-chips-can-fall-out-posing-a-security-risk/2284510/

http://kxan.com/2017/08/10/chip-in-credit-cards-can-fall-out-be-removed-and-stolen/

http://www.bankrate.com/finance/credit-cards/5-ways-thieves-steal-credit-card-data-7.aspx

arrow Read this post

3 Steps to Recover from Identity Theft

identity theft

Identity theft is a crime that can impact more than your finances. Like other forms of theft, identity theft robs your sense of security, trust, and peace of mind. It’s a personal violation that can affect your whole life.

But recovery from identity theft is possible. This three-step plan can help you regain control of your financial reputation and repair your credit.

1) Stop the Damage

Place a fraud alert on your credit reports. A fraud alert notifies lenders and creditors that your identity has been compromised. Often an identity thief will attempt to extend credit, and this flag will warn the credit bureaus to be on the watch for suspicious activity. The alert is active for 90 days and prevents any activity on your credit accounts.

You may also want to consider an extended fraud alert, which remains in effect for seven years. During that time you can get two free credit reports within 12 months, and your name will be removed from credit offer marketing lists for five years.

Call the police. Once you have determined that your identity has been stolen, file a report with the local police. Be prepared to provide as much evidence as possible, and request a copy of the report — creditors may ask for it.

Contact the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). File an Identity Theft Affidavit and create an identity theft report. You can file the report online or by calling 1-877-ID-THEFT (438-4338). This is only necessary if your identity has been stolen, but not if a single account was compromised.

2) Start Repairing

Review your credit report. By Federal law, you’re entitled to one free credit report per year from each of the three credit reporting companies. (See www.annualcreditreport.com ) Review your reports closely for any accounts you didn’t initiate, or for new or fraudulent charges on other accounts. If you see errors or debts you don’t recognize, contact the credit reporting companies and the fraud department of each business reporting an error.

Keep a log. Record all of your phone calls, emails, and letters in a log. Include dates, names of people you spoke with, and phone numbers. Also keep track of the time and expenses you incur during the resolution of your identity theft — you can often deduct these expenses on your tax return.

3) Stay Protected

Protect your SSN. You should never carry your Social Security card with you or have your number written or stored anywhere that it could fall into the wrong hands. Never include it in an email, and never give it to anyone who doesn’t need it for tax or financial account purposes. Your SSN should never be used as a form of ID.

Sign up for free credit monitoring. Although credit monitoring cannot actively protect you from identity theft, it can alert you if there has been a data breach that affects your account. If someone attempts to open an account in your name, you’ll know about it. If you’re offered a free credit monitoring service, it can help give you some peace of mind. Partnering with a legal credit expert can help you not only leverage your legal credit rights, but can also offer a higher level of service and protection than many of the free credit services available. At Lexington Law, for example, our PremierPlus service level provides continuous fraud alerts to protect your credit health.

Identity theft is a traumatic experience, but it doesn’t have to permanently ruin your credit. You can start to fix your credit and take measures to protect yourself against future vulnerability by following these steps to recovery.

Carry on the conversation on our social media platforms. Like and follow us on Facebook and leave us a tweet on Twitter.

arrow Read this post

5 Ways to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft

shutterstock_264646241

Identity theft is a common problem in a culture that thrives on connectivity. According to a recent study, 13.1 million consumers lost a combined $15 billion to identity theft last year. While it seems impossible to avoid the widespread threat, there are a few best practices to ensure your credit safety:

arrow Read this post