My Secure Advantage

Great Financial Wellness Includes Identity Protection

When it comes to improving your finances, most people immediately think of spending wisely, eliminating debt, and saving up for retirement, and rightly so!  Those all play a huge part in great financial success.
By MSA Staff

When it comes to improving your finances, most people immediately think of spending wisely, eliminating debt, and saving up for retirement, and rightly so!  Those all play a huge part in great financial success.  However, one key aspect of maintaining solid finances is incorporating an identity theft protection plan.

The Cost of Being a Victim

What does identity theft protection have to do with financial success?  Why should it be involved in your financial plan?  Simply put, being a victim of identity theft could mean losing everything.

If fraudsters get your debit information, they could empty your bank account.  If they infiltrate your place of business and steal your personal information, they could access your insurance benefits or even retirement savings.

One victim of identity theft said, “On the evening of December 4th, my computer was invaded and my identity compromised.  I went from a quiet, private retired nurse to a frightened, lost victim in a world I knew little about.  I had no direction, no plan, and no hope of surviving the mayhem.  [My Fraud Resolution Specialist] truly saved me; she gave me a plan to follow, but most of all she gave me support and hope.”

When you become a victim, your personal information, money, time, and even your health are at risk:

  • In 2015, 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft.  Financial losses attributed to identity theft totaled $15 billion.¹
  • Over one-third (36%) of victims said the identity theft incident caused them moderate to severe emotional distress.²
  • It takes 58-165 work hours for people to resolve identity theft issues.³

Victims have to deal with rebuilding their credit, reinstating their good reputation, and recovering from the stress of it all.

On top of that, there are lasting effects.  Take credit damage for example.  Let’s say, you’re looking to get a 36-month new auto loan for $15,000, and the last time you checked your credit score (say, a year or two ago), it was 750, so you think you’re good to go.  Unbeknownst to you, a fraudster got a hold of your information and has been using your identity to open accounts and rack up debt, ruining your credit and putting you closer to a score of 550 (an extreme plummet but a good illustration).  With a score of 750, you might get an annual percentage rate of 3.252%, a monthly payment of $438, and end up paying $764 in interest over the life of the loan.  However, if you try to get that same loan with the credit score of 550 (thank you identity theft), you might have an APR closer to 14.73%, a monthly payment of $518, and end up paying almost $3,000 more in interest!⁴  Now think about applying for student loans with that kind of credit damage, or buying a house….

What can you do?

There are a few simple steps you can take to stay ahead of the game.  Here’s how you can get started:

  • Check your credit and debit card statements for suspicious activity, like transactions you didn’t make, which could be a sign that someone has stolen your information.
  • Periodically check your credit reports for suspicious activity, like leases or new credit card accounts that you didn’t activate.  You are entitled to one free credit report from each of the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) every twelve months, through annualcreditreport.com, which means you could look at a different credit report every four months, if you spaced them out.
  • Be cautious when it comes to buying products online.  Make a habit of reading security and privacy terms to see if the site shares information with third parties or uses a Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) that encrypts your information and keeps it private.
  • Use an identity theft protection service that goes above and beyond to protect your information.  You could even ask your Money Coach to recommend a reliable service.

Protecting Your Well-Earned Money

In this technology-driven day and age, you need more than a good lockbox.  You need an identity theft protection service that monitors your personal information and finances.  For top of the line security, keep an eye out for services that include the following:

  • Identity Monitoring:  Look for an identity theft protection service that includes data sweeps and other monitoring services that keep track of your personal identifying information (e.g. name, date of birth, SSN, etc.) and also notify you when it’s used in suspicious activity.  Monitoring can reduce the financial impact that identity theft can cause, by reporting the fraud earlier and reducing potential out-of-pocket losses.
  • Credit Monitoring:  Make sure you get monitoring for any changes in a credit score or credit report that could mean your information has been stolen.  Your credit can affect your loans, employment, and more, so it’s important to keep a fraudster from damaging your good reputation.
  • High Risk Transaction Monitoring:  Monitoring of high risk transactions is absolutely important because it could alert you to major changes like opening an account, activating a credit card, refilling a prescription, or even when a thief tries resetting your bank password to access your money.
  • Recovery Assistance:  Becoming a victim is scary.  Access to fraud resolution professionals who can help you take the necessary steps – like contacting the police and credit bureaus – makes the recovery process shorter and easier.

Did you know members have comprehensive identity theft protection at their fingertips?  Talk with your Money Coach about how to access the services mentioned above.  Members can work with a Fraud Resolution Specialist and Certified Identity Theft Risk Management Specialist®, get 24/7 monitoring and real-time alerts, receive monthly tips and notices about their level of personal risk, and more!

In order to maintain financial success, you need to protect your finances.  Start protecting your hard-earned dollars by calling 888-724-2326 today.

¹Pascal, Al, Kyle Marchini and Sarah Miller.  “2016 Identity Fraud: Fraud Hits an Inflection Point.”  Javelin, 2 Feb. 2016.  Email.  16 May 2016.

²Harrell, Erika, Ph.D. and Lynn Langton, Ph.D.  Victims of Identity Theft, 2012.  BJS, Dec. 2013.  PDF.

³Sansom, Nancy.  “New Apps Improve Employee Wellness.”  Corporate Wellness Magazine.  February 2012: 25-26.  Web.

Loan Savings Calculator.  myFico, 9 Jun. 2016.  Web.  9 Jun. 2016.

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