Published on September 24, 2023
You can be the first line of defense against identity theft
If you’ve been a victim of identify theft you’re not alone. If not, did you ever stop to learn what it is and how it can impact you?
If you’re in the latter group, it is possible you may not be too worried about identity theft. But the reality is you should be doing everything you can to help prevent it from happening to you or a member of your family. One of your best tools is being educated about this type of white-collar crime. Fortunately, Community Choice can help with IDProtect®, an identity protection program for your account.
First, consider that you may be in a very different situation than you were when you first heard about identity theft. Today, you may have accumulated more wealth, or may have started a business or are putting one or more children through college. With the array of online transactions, you may process each week, there is risk, especially using such tools as public Wi-Fi. With all of these life changes, it is more important than ever to know the Red Flags of Identity Theft.
Let’s begin with the basics and review what identity theft is and how it is perpetrated.
Identity theft is a crime where a thief can access your personal information without permission or knowledge. The criminal may then use that information to commit fraud or other illegal activities. Your most personal information is often identified: names, addresses, birthdates, Social Security numbers, credit card numbers, driver’s license numbers and bank account information.
Identity theft can cause significant harm such as financial loss, damage to credit scores, legal problems, and emotional distress. Identity thieves can use the stolen information to open new accounts, make unauthorized purchases, obtain loans, file fraudulent tax returns, and commit other forms of fraud.
The number of identity theft crimes is staggering:
In 2022, there were over 1.1 million reports of identity theft in the United States alone. (Federal Trade Commission)
Identity theft cost Americans over $43 billion in 2022. (Javelin Strategy & Research)
The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud, accounting for 40% of all reported cases. (Federal Trade Commission)
In 2022, nearly 6% of all reported identity theft cases involved government documents or benefits fraud, such as using stolen information to file for unemployment benefits. (Federal Trade Commission)
Children are also at risk of identity theft, with over 1 million children having their identities stolen each year. (Javelin Strategy & Research)
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to a significant increase in identity theft, with fraudsters using stolen information to apply for government assistance programs and unemployment benefits. (Federal Trade Commission)
It can take an average of 6 months and 100-200 hours of work to resolve an identity theft case. (Federal Trade Commission)
Around 60% of identity theft victims experience emotional distress as a result of the crime. (Identity Theft Resource Center)
Take steps to protect
Want to protect yourself? While nothing is full proof, these steps can go a long way to giving you peace of mind:
Using strong passwords
Be cautious about giving out personal information online
Check your credit reports and financial statements regularly
Being alert to signs of identity theft attempts on email or online such as phishing
Avoid using unsecured Wi-Fi when dealing with sensitive personal information
If you suspect that your identity has been stolen, it's important to act immediately. As a Community Choice account holder, should you feel your identity has been compromised, contact us - we have professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocates standing by, ready to assist. These member advocates are prepared to work on your behalf to help you recover from identity theft and to help you reverse damage it may have caused.
IDProtect, available to members with a Choice Checking account, provides credit file monitoring, free credit reports, identity theft expense reimbursement coverage and additional resolution services.
Contact us or find out more about your benefits of being a Community Choice member by visiting us online or calling 877.243.2528.