Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Why You Need to Protect Your Identity

If you have never experienced identity theft or known someone who has, you may think that you do not need to worry about how to protect your identity. However, as reports of this white-collar crime increase, the odds that you will eventually deal with identity theft of some sort go up. Before you wave off identity theft protection, here are a few things you need to know:

What is the big deal if someone hacks my account, can't I just dispute the charges?

 Sometimes you can just dispute the charges. However, if you are not paying attention to your credit reports and all your accounts, you may not notice the fraudulent activity until it is nearly impossible, or at least extremely difficult, to repair. You can dispute charges on your account, but taking steps to prevent identity theft takes less time and will cost you less money in the end.

If someone accessed your credit cards, it is likely they have access to other information, which would allow them to open more credit cards, utility accounts or medical accounts in your name. If you fail to take steps to protect your identity, you may get a surprise when creditors or even legal representatives start knocking at your door, looking for their money.

Aren’t there laws to protect me from identity theft?

Federal law says that you are not responsible for any charges to your account after you report it lost or stolen. However, you may be responsible for any charges an identity thief makes on your account if they access your funds before you report a breach.

If you report your debit card missing before any charges, you are not responsible for any charges made after the reported loss. If you file the report within two business days of the theft or fraudulent charge your may have to pay up to $50 of the charges. If you wait more than two business days but less than 60, you are legally responsible for up to $500. If you wait longer, you are legally responsible for any financial loss from your bank account and you may even be responsible for more if other accounts (fraudulent or not) are linked to your bank account.

Credit cards max out at a $50 liability for fraudulent charges; however, if you wait too long to dispute charges or report your card stolen, you will have a more difficult time proving you did not make the charges yourself.

I do not use credit cards; do I really need to worry?

Even if you do not use credit cards, you still need to protect your identity. Identity thieves are perceptive and smart. Sometimes they can ascertain enough personal information from what you publish online (including your social media accounts) to gain access to more personal and sensitive information.

If you do not use credit cards, it is extremely important that you monitor your credit reports frequently to ensure that no one has opened an account in your name. If you do not catch the fraud within 60 days you could be held responsible for a lot of bills, including medical or utility accounts opened in your name.

Protect your identity. Take steps to ensure that your personal information is safe and secure and you can protect your assets and your future. For more information about how you can protect your identity, visit Identity Guard's website.

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