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Who Are You? Protecting Against Identity Theft

"Stealing is stealing. I don't care if it's on the Internet or you're breaking into a warehouse somewhere - it's theft," (; Patrick Leahy; 7-13-2018). For anyone who has gone through the experience of identity theft the violated feelings are just as real and unnerving as walking into a home after a burglary. In both cases, sometimes with the best protections and precautions there is no way to foresee the dangers of having your property stolen.

Technology has created many opportunities and avenues for growth but also increased the risks associated with identity theft. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, the definition of identity theft involves three areas of stealing:

1) attempting to or using an existing account without authorization,

2) attempting to or using personal identification to open a new account,

3) or any illegal use of personal information to commit fraud(, 2018).

These thefts can be perpetrated on both a personal and household level and there are databases that track the number of incidents for this type of crime.

The 2018 Identity Fraud Study indicates that the 2017 incidents of identity fraud in the United States reached an all-time high of 16.7 million citizens (, 2018). The area of greatest danger for identity theft involves online shopping and hackers are developing more sophisticated schemes to grab unsuspecting victims' monetary funds. So with the risk of this type of crime growing exponentially in numbers every year since 2012 how can the average person protect themselves? The following are some safety tips developed to protect online consumers from becoming victims:

1) Two-factor authentication - The more steps a site uses in verifying your online account access means greater security for you as the customer. Security Questions and entering encrypted codes are steps that businesses and institutions have adopted in layering the levels of security. (, 2018).

2) Use protection - Installing anti-malware, not engaging public Wi-Fi and creating a screen lock on your mobile devices are a few ways the consumer can collaborate with vendors in maintaining a safer trade experience (, 2018).

3) Freeze Credit - Setting up a freeze on your credit reports with the credit bureaus will create a barrier for anyone other than your current creditors and government agencies from accessing your data. There is a often a cost involved but might be minimal in comparison to the loss of funds associated with fraud (, 2018).

4) Purchase insurance protection - Many homeowner's policies now offer a protection for Identity Theft. When identity theft occurs, most people will spend hours of time in research, personal meetings, and lost work trying to get the matter resolved. Auto-Owners Insurance company is one insurer that offers coverage under the Identity Theft Expense Coverage for assistance in the client's costs associated with fraud, such as loss of earnings, phone call charges, loan fees for refinance, and even some attorney fees for this damage (Auto-Owners, Form 89025, Page 1).

At Custom Insurance Advisors, our staff of trained personal lines producers are happy to look at your current coverage and will work with you to fit your plan to meet the needs associated with identity theft. We understand the importance of practicing safety measures, but would be happy to provide coverage at a time when you need it most. We are here to be of service. Call today!

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