Identity theft: A gift that keeps on getting
Shoppers are out in full force this time of year, and so are identity thieves. The holiday season gives credit cards a workout, and with your personal credit information in festive display, identity thieves have more opportunity to feast on your finances.
Identity theft and cyber crimes are on the rise. The Javelin Strategy & Research 2013 Identity Fraud Report found that more than 12 million Americans were victimized by ID theft in 2012, a million more than in 2011. The 2012 figure was the second highest number in the 10 years Javelin has been issuing these reports.
With mobile transactions becoming everyday habits, there are more opportunities to inadvertently allow access to personal financial data. If you conduct business via mobile apps in public places, you must stay vigilant. The larger your mobile device, the easier it is for someone to look over your shoulder as you enter credit card numbers and your home’s billing address. Be careful out there!
Most home and renter insurance policies provide coverage for theft of money or credit cards. The amount of coverage is limited; usually it is $50 on credit cards and $200 in cash. Make sure you read your policy to find out the coverage limits. You may decide to go for extra protection that comes with stand-alone identity theft insurance or through an endorsement to the home or renter’s policy you currently have.
One interesting finding from the ID theft report was that fraudsters are shrinking the timeframe for misusing the information they steal. The reason: ID theft victims were paying attention to fraud alerts and actively monitoring their accounts. Keep doing that. It works!