Beware the Stolen Identity

By Megan Cooney, Marketing Assistant

In this day and age, identity theft is nothing new. However, with more transactions taking place over the Internet and private account information being stored online, this criminal act is becoming more common. Everyone, even the big-name companies, is vulnerable to identity theft.

Last week, Adobe made a public statement that their system was breached. The hackers gained access to the Adobe system and stole the private account information of 2.9 million customers, according USA Today.

“The Adobe breach shows that everyone is fair game,” Eduard Goodman, chief privacy officer at IDentity Theft 911, said in an interview with USA Today. Along with card information, the culprits also stole part of the source code for Adobe Acrobat and Adobe ColdFusion, which Aaron Titus, chief privacy officer at Identity Finder, said he finds more alarming (USA Today).

But, what is even more alarming than the recent Adobe breach?

The fact that Social Security statements can now be accessed online using a “my Social Security” account. This account can be used to access benefit verification letters; check benefit and payment information, as well as earnings record; change an address and phone number; and to start or change direct deposits for benefit payments.

“My Social Security” uses Experian, an outside authentication service provider, to verify an identity. The online account states that it does not share Social Security numbers with Experian, and that the company only keeps private information for the time period designated by Federal law. Experian also has steps in effect to help reduce the risk of identity theft, such as dropping several digits from credit account numbers and Social Security numbers.

Although “my Social Security” and Experian have preventative steps in place for identity theft, this could also be an opportunity to cause a lot of problems. All a hacker needs to do to gain access to your personal information is to find the hole in the system they are trying to break into. And as we’ve seen with the recent Adobe breach, anyone is susceptible to identity theft. This is why individuals should seriously consider investing in an Identity Theft Protection Plan.

However, do not be misled by the terminology “protection plan.” In fact, a better way to describe this type of coverage is as a “restoration plan.” With Identity Theft Protection, your insurance carrier will pay for the cleanup of an identity theft incident, or the expenses you incur as a direct result of it. On average, the coverage ranges from $15,000 to $25,000, depending on the carrier.

The covered expenses range from the following:

  • Costs for notarizing fraud affirmations required by financial/lending institutions, credit agencies, or similar credit grantors.
  • Costs for certified mail to financial/lending institutions, credit agencies, or similar credit grantors.
  • Long-distance telephone call charges to financial/lending institutions, credit agencies, or similar credit grantors.
  • Application fees when re-applying for loans.
  • Reasonable attorney filing fees.
  • Loss of income from taking time off to resolve the identity theft issue.

Technology is evolving at a fast pace, and to stay connected with consumers, more banks, credit card companies, and even insurance carriers are allowing their customers to access their account information online. Although this is easy for the customer, it is easier for fraud to occur.

Keep an eye out for any unusual activity on your accounts, and if you see something, report it immediately. The quicker the issue is reported, increases the likelihood that the suspicious activity can be blocked. Weigh your options as a consumer and think about the best preventative measures to take against identity theft.

For more information on how to prevent identity theft read, Protecting Your Personal Information to Prevent Identity Theft.

*This article is written for informational purposes only and should not be construed as providing legal advice.