Protecting Your Identity and Other Assets Program Recap

Identity theft is on the rise and thieves are becoming more clever in their methods to steal your information and identity.  However, there are many steps you can take to help reduce your risk of identity theft as well as insure your other assets are protected through insurance.

The following information is brought to you by the FDIC as part of their Money Smart for Older Adults educational series.

Assets and Risks

    • An asset is something you own that has value
      • car, home, financial accounts, job, identity
    • Risk is the potential for harm
    • You can reduce your risks by:
      • making informed decisions that anticipate risks
      • Be careful with personal information
      • Know your rights and responsibilities
      • Get insurance

Identify Theft Basics

    • Where is your identity?
      • SS cards, drivers license, passport, or other identification cards (health insurance)
      • Financial statements, previous tax returns, or utility bills
      • Online usernames and passwords, credit or debit cards
    • Ways criminals can steal your identity include
      • Phishing scams via text, phone, or email asking you to give up personal information
        • Can be related to special offers or robocalls about students loans or mortgage loan modification
          • Never click on any links or press any buttons or this can take you malicious websites or indicate that your phone number is active and can receive more calls
      • Pharming your information through fake websites by asking you to fill out personal information or installing malicious malware or spyware on your device
      • Skimming your financial information by stealing your debit or credit card information from special readers installed on ATMs, gas pumps, or card reading devices
    • Most common types of identity theft include
      • credit card fraud
      • employment or tax fraud
      • phone or utility fraud
      • bank fraud
      • loan or lease fraud
      • government documents or benefits fraud
    • COVID-19 related scams and fraud include
      • calls or emails about vaccines, home test kits, or miracle cures
      • robocalls about treatment or work-from-home schemes
      • calls or email about obtaining your federal stimulus check, including asking for payment upfront to receive a check
      • impostors claiming to be from a government agency such as Social Security Administration, Medicare, or IRS
      • Calls from “family members” claiming to be at the hospital in need of money for care or treatment

Warning Signs of Identity Theft

    • withdrawals you did not make
    • missing bills or statements
      • evidence that someone changed your address or email on file
    • merchants refusing your checks or credit card
    • letters or emails about accounts or purchases you did not open/make
    • statements from credit cards you did not open
    • debt collectors calling about debts that are not yours
    • usernames or passwords are not working
    • unfamiliar accounts on your credit report
    • medical bills or health records for conditions or procedures you don’t have or need
    • multiple or inaccurate tax returns
    • notifications of data breaches by companies you patronize

Steps to Minimize Identity Theft

    • guard your personal information
    • do not respond to unsolicited requests
    • guard your mail, including shredding all paper that contains your personal information
    • sign up for direct deposit and review your financial accounts regularly and carefully
    • review your credit report every 12 months at a minimum
      • you can request a free credit report from each credit bureau once per year, so space them out every 4 months to stay on top of your credit
    • keep your important documents secure, such as a safety deposit box, safe, or external hard drive
    • be aware of disaster-related scams and sign up for scam/fraud alerts

If Your Identity Has Been Stolen

    • create an Identity Theft Report at https://identitytheft.gov/
    • work with credit reporting agencies to respond to the threat
      • place a free fraud alert on a credit report
      • dispute inaccurate information in writing
      • place a free credit freeze
    • communicate with creditors and debt collectors
      • alert them about fraudulent accounts
      • get copies of documents related to the theft
      • get written information about fraudulent accounts
      • visit https://identitytheft.gov/ for more rights

Get Insurance

    • insurance can protect you and lessen your financial burden from a catastrophe
    • most insurances have:
      • premiums – money you have to pay to keep the insurance active
      • covered loss – what is covered under the policy
      • coverage limit – the maximum amount of money the insurance will pay
      • deductible – money you must pay out-of-pocket before insurance will pay
      • copayment – money you must pay at the time of service
      • coinsurance – the percentage you must pay while insurance will cover the rest
      • exemption or exclusion – things that the policy will not cover
    • types of insurance include
      • health, dental, or vision
      • long term care or disability
      • life or death
      • car, motorcycle, boat
      • homeowners or renters
      • pet
    • When getting insurance
      • determine which assets you want to insure and against what risks
      • find out what insurance is required by law, such as car insurance
      • shop around
        • check out insurance companies for reputability
        • ask for discounts and compare quotes
        • consider tradeoffs between deductibles, coinsurance, coverage limit, and premium
      • Always keep accurate records, including claims and receipts

To view a recording of the webinar, please visit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ofxPK9euZz4.  You can also download the presentation and Participant Guide.

About Andrew Dauphinee

Education and learning are passions of mine. Lifelong learning is a core part of who I am and I strive to pass that desire for information on to everyone I meet. As the Instruction and Outreach Librarian, it is my goal to provide quality, informative, and relevant programming to meet the diverse needs of our patrons. Please contact me regarding programming at adauphinee@njstatelib.org.