Identity theft is a serious issue: More than 15 million Americans had their identities stolen in 2016. Identity Theft was among the top complaints on the Federal Trade Commission’s 2016 list of consumer complaints.  Thieves committed crimes such as credit card fraud, loan fraud and bank fraud, amassing an estimated $16 billion in fraudulent charges, according to a 2017 report.   

You know the risks. Even though you’re vigilant about protecting your personal information, including your Social Security number, ATM PIN and email passwords, identity theft protection may provide additional protection. Here are a few things to consider:

Identity theft protection is not your typical insurance:

Unlike home and auto insurance policies that cover financial losses due to a particular accident or occurrence, identity theft insurance will not reimburse financial losses incurred due to an identity theft — which are typically minimal. One government report found that just 14 percent of victims experienced out-of-pocket losses due to identity theft; of those victims, 49 percent suffered losses of $99 or less. Although the financial losses incurred might be minimal, the costs of restoring your identity, including legal fees, loss of wages and other expenses could be significant — and those are the type of costs Farm Bureau’s identity theft protections are designed to cover.  

Credit monitoring services vs. identity theft protection:

Credit monitoring services watch accounts for fraudulent transactions or unauthorized new account openings to provide early detection of suspicious activity. However, it alone doesn’t offer help covering the costs to restore your identity. Additional coverage that specifically addresses restoring your identity is needed. Why not have both? Ask a Farm Bureau agent about our credit monitoring and identity theft protections.

Take immediate action:

If you notice any unusual or unauthorized activity on your accounts, report it immediately. Call your financial institution, credit card issuer and file a report through the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). When you file a report, the FTC will use the information you provide to create a plan with step-by-step instructions for dealing with identity theft and recovering your identity.

With or without insurance, it’s essential to take precautions to reduce the likelihood your identity will be stolen. Be careful about who has access to your Social Security number (never carry it in your wallet), and avoid sharing personal information such as your date of birth and mother’s maiden name that fraudsters could use to access your accounts. Securely store financial information, including investment and bank account statements, and shred documents before disposing of them.