My husband loves baseball. Very few things make him happier than watching as a baseball bat connects with the ball in a perfectly timed arc. When his birthday came around I knew I had the ideal present: four tickets for the entire family to see a game on Memorial Day. Unfortunately, there was another not-so-welcome gift waiting for me when I got home: identity theft.
When I chose to pay for the tickets online, I opened up a Pandora’s box of identity fraud. A cascade of terrible events would follow. The data breach meant that someone else had my vitally important information. When they were finally caught, the fiscal aftershocks were intense and long-lasting. My credit rating took a dive. They had my social security number and access to my bank account. They used my name to do everything from buying groceries to paying for a vacation to Aruba.
It’s Really Common
As I sat there with my documents, frantically making painful calls to clean up the mess, I knew I was not alone. ID theft is very common. Each year, consumers lose billions to those committing identity theft. It may seem harmless but it is not. When someone steals your information they can do dangerous things, including opening up credit cards and other new accounts without your authorization.
Thieves can also get access to your medical records to commit medical identity theft. They can pretend to be you and find out personal medical details about your life. They can even steal your prescriptions. Ultimately, identity theft can mean the loss of your valuable reputation. Prevention and a good recovery plan are crucial. This is why I turned to LifeLock.
Thieves can get access to your data in many ways including:
- When you’re in public
- At your workplace
- From your tax returns
An identity thief can strike almost anywhere. Sitting in the local coffee shop alone with your thoughts? Login to your laptop to connect with others and you could be at risk. You don’t even have to be on the network for them to get information. They will look for low-power electronic signals. This gives them access to your data via what is known “side channel” intercept. Someone could be sitting a short distance away. An antenna or microphone in their purse could be used to get steal your personal data, even if you’re not connected to the internet.
Sensitive Company Data
You may not be secure even at your workplace. Many companies use a group chat app. These are useful for company business when people are scattered in other locations where voice communications may not be possible or advisable.
However, they also pose dangers. All too often it’s possible to hack into the app. This can compromise important company secrets and personal data. Reduce risks by using what is known as an “end-to-end” encryption. This way, messages are only readable via certain specified users and devices. It’s also a good idea to add a really complex password, two-step authentication, and consider leaving the most sensitive information out of the chat.
Your Tax Returns
Tax documents are a major source of identity theft. A fraudster with your social security number can use that account number to file a false tax return in your name. You may know you’re due for a refund only to find that someone else has stolen your money.
Thieves can also steal your refund check directly from your mailbox. You could be out hundreds and even thousands of dollars. That’s why I take advantage of the government’s offer to directly deposit my check in my bank account. No paper checks to steal. I file my returns as soon as possible to head off a long possible timeframe where fraud can occur.
You are Protected
While it may seem as if criminals hold all the cards, such is not the case. Consumers have rights. Consumer protection laws from government agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission are on your side. When my data was stolen, I learned there were resources waiting for me. The law was on my side and that felt good. I also learned there are other means of protection against identity theft.
For example, your homeowner’s (or renter’s) insurance policy might offer help in the event that your identity is compromised. This can pay for big things like legal costs, but also smaller things like the cost of having to make copies of police reports to send to creditors as evidence that you were a victim of fraud. But that only helps after you’ve already become a victim. Other options exist for helping protect your identity from being stolen in the first place.
After I was a victim of identity fraud, I quickly realized I had many ways to protect my data. One of the most important was a system called LifeLock. LifeLock does several things for everyone.
First of all, the system is constantly monitoring the world around me. Thieves don’t take naps. They’re always there. You need round-the-clock protection to fend them off. When you have LifeLock, you know the system is working for you even when you’re asleep. The LifeLock system constantly looks for potential threats. You don’t need to spend hours worrying that your info is being hacked when you’re doing something else.
If a Problem is Found
One of the great things about LifeLock is I know I’ll be told immediately if a problem is found. If someone is using your data without your authorization, LifeLock will let you know.
When someone stole my data after I purchased baseball tickets, I wasn’t told for over a week. That was all the head start the thieves needed to wreck my life. Fraud alert lets you know about possible identity theft almost as soon as it happens.
If something does happen, you’ll have the additional help you need. They are experts and they know what to do. The company will assign an Identity Restoration Specialist to your case. The Specialist knows exactly how to help you untangle the entire problem. This way, you’re not left on your own to chase after dozens of potential problems one by one. They will also reimburse any expenses you might incur along the way. Untangling identity theft problems can be costly and complicated. If you need to hire experts such as a lawyer who specializes in identity theft, LifeLock will even pay for it.
Ultimately, I was lucky. I managed to escape my bout with identity theft and come out the other end with everything okay. LifeLock is there right now for all of us. With their help, you can relax knowing you are fully protected.
Installation is easy. The security app can be installed on up to five different devices. Give it to your teenager to protect her growing reputation. Use it on the road so you can conduct all private business with great confidence no matter where you are. LifeLock makes it truly easy to maintain one of your most precious assets: your private information.