My Secure Advantage

Great Financial Wellness Could Include 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 can play a huge part in 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 can play a huge part in financial success.  However, one potential aspect of maintaining solid finances is incorporating an identity theft protection plan.

The Cost of Being a Victim

What might identity theft protection have to do with financial success?  Why might 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.

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 can take 58-165 work hours for people to resolve identity theft issues.³

Victims may have to rebuild their credit, reinstate their good reputation, and recover from the stress of it all.

On top of that, there could be 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 a 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 or trying to buy a house with that kind of credit damage…

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, 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.  Consider 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.
  • Consider an identity theft protection service that goes above and beyond to protect your information.

Protecting Your Well-Earned Money

In this technology-driven day and age, you may need more than a good lockbox.  You may 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 will also notify you of suspicious activity.  Monitoring may reduce the financial impact that identity theft can cause by reporting the fraud earlier and reducing potential out-of-pocket losses.
  • Credit Monitoring:  Consider getting monitoring for changes in a credit score or credit report that could mean your information has been stolen.  Remember, your credit can affect your loans, employment, and more.
  • High-Risk Transaction Monitoring:  Monitoring of high-risk transactions can be 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 – can make the recovery process shorter and easier.

Did you know MSA members have comprehensive identity theft protection at their fingertips?  Talk with your Money Coach about how to access the services mentioned above.

Building and maintaining financial success may need to include protecting your finances.  Learn how you might protect your hard-earned dollars by calling 888-724-2326 today.

My Secure Advantage® does not monitor every transaction at every business. No service can stop all identity theft events. This content is for informational purposes only and does not guarantee eligibility for the program or its services. My Secure Advantage, Inc. or any of its representatives do not endorse any of the websites or company names listed here. The information presented is not to be a substitute for seeking advice specific to your situation from a legal or financial professional. If legal or financial advice is required, contact an attorney or financial advisor.

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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