The past two years have broken records regarding the enormous data breaches affecting major companies and more than one billion consumers. In fact, just this past September, Equifax alone announced a breach of sensitive consumer information – including Social Security numbers – affecting approximately half of the total U.S. population. That type of data is often sold on the dark web to criminals who hope to take advantage of your good name. While you may not be able to stop this progression of events, there are steps you can take to minimize long-term damage to your credit score and finances.
Preventing Identity Theft
You would be more vigilant in protecting your property and implementing security measures if you knew a thief was about to attempt a break-in at your home. The same principle applies to your private information; only it is much more likely that someone will try to steal your identity than burglarize your home. If you know someone is trying to compromise your information, why not take steps to thwart their efforts?
You can start by enrolling in a credit monitoring program that alerts you to new or unusual activity on your credit report. This is financial equivalent to setting the alarm on your home; all the bells and whistles will go off if someone successfully breaks in. The earlier you can catch an identity thief, the quicker you can shut down unauthorized accounts and hopefully eliminate any fraudulent liabilities.
Next, make a habit of scanning your credit card statements and bank statements each month. Even credit monitoring may not pick up on charges to an account that you regularly use. Finally, be quick to report suspicious activity on your statements or credit reports. You may not be liable for unauthorized credit card charges so long as you report them promptly. Likewise, you can dispute unauthorized accounts and liabilities with the credit bureaus and place a freeze on your credit to prevent the opening of additional accounts in your name.
Purchase Identity Theft Insurance
Perhaps the most important step in protecting your identity is purchasing identity theft insurance. Without it, the cost of restoring your credit and voiding fraudulent debts can add up quickly – especially if you need to hire a lawyer or take time off work to handle your case. Identity theft insurance can help cover the cost of lost wages, travel expenses, legal fees, and more while you work to recover your good name.
You can purchase identity theft insurance by talking with an independent agent here at Gutman Insurance. We help clients like you get coverage either as a stand-alone policy or as an addition to an existing homeowners, renters, or condo insurance policy.
Protect Your Business
Individuals are not the only victims of cybercrime. In fact, businesses are often left to shoulder much of the burden when hackers and viruses compromise the private information of customers stored in corporate databases. If you own a business, you could experience a tremendous loss if you are targeted for a data breach. Having the right insurance could help you cover the expensive cost of:
- Virus removal
- Website reconstruction
- Victim notification
- Credit monitoring
- Fines and penalties
- Business Interruption
- And more
If your business stores private customer information, such as patient records, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers, Social Security numbers, or other identifying information, you probably need data breach insurance. To qualify for coverage, insurance underwriters may require that you implement loss prevention protocols to minimize the risk of loss. This may include routine audits, software testing, employee security training, strategic contingency planning, and more.
For more information about protecting yourself or your business against cybercrime, contact our office today.