Preventing Identity Theft

In September 30, 2015
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Many people in and from the region recently received unfortunate news from Excellus BlueCross BlueShield informing them that the company has been a target of a cyberattack that initially occurred at the end of 2013 and that their information may have been compromised. Accordingly, we thought this might be a good time to review some steps you can take when a breach occurs at a service provider and how to better defend yourself going forward.

Service Provider Breach
Unfortunately once a breach has occurred with a service provider the door is open. Not just now but forever. Once your information is compromised there is little one can do to prevent the information from being sold or used. Sadly even if the perpetrators are apprehended there is no way to know if copies were made for backup or distribution. Going forward we must be vigilant in defense of our identity and personal information records.

Specifically, Excellus is offering two years of free theft protection services through Kroll. Please refer to the Excellus website or the letter from BlueCross for additional details on how to access services. Although this service is only for two years we believe it is wise to begin monitoring your personal information by taking advantage of this free protection.

Please consider these additional defense tactics if you are involved in the Excellus breach or another:

  • Contact the credit bureaus to place a fraud alert on your information. This can prevent new fraudulent accounts from being established.
  • Review your transactions on a regular basis. Check your credit card and bank statements regularly for purchases you did not make.
  • Review your credit reports on a regular basis. You want to review all three credit bureaus because they may have different information. Credit reports can be checked for free at www.annualcreditreport.com.

To be sure Identity Theft is not a modern crime that just occurs over the internet. It is important to understand that although identity thieves have been around for years, these criminals are different, more sophisticated and global in nature. Your identity can be compromised shopping at your local retailer, using an ATM, or by discarding personal information improperly. Even your children can be at risk. Here are a few tips for keeping your identity safe everyday:

  • Shred all papers that have identifying information. If you do not have your own shredder, stores such as Staples or OfficeMax offer shredding services for a fee. This shredder may be a good fit for you… http://www.staples.com/GoECOLife-10-sheet-White-Compaction-Cross-cut-Shredder/product_889734
  • Make sure you are aware of your surroundings. Block the view of the keypad when entering your pin at the ATM or checkout counter. If information is verbally requested make sure no one is in range.
  • Know when you need to share your Social Security number. Many entities still use your Social Security number to identify you. By law, these agencies are required to disclose to you whether submitting your Social Security number is required. They must also tell you how your information will be used and why.
  • Protect your children’s identity. Make sure you put your child’s Social Security card and birth certificate in a safe place. Children are great targets since it will be years before they will apply for credit.
  • File a police report to establish credibility. The police report can be used in the future to dispute any fraudulent charges.
  • Contact the Federal Trade Commission and/or your states Attorney General’s office. You can obtain information on how to avoid identity theft as well as information on fraud alerts and account freezes.
  • Be Vigilant or get protection. Consider purchasing ID Theft Coverage or doing the monitoring yourself. Some service providers may offer the services at little or no cost.

Although this list is in no way comprehensive we hope this information gives you a few ideas to jump start identity protection. Let’s all be proactive in keeping our identity’s safe! Please feel free to share your ideas at https://twitter.com/PrenticeWealth

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Advisory services offered through Prentice Wealth Management, LLC, an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Prentice Wealth Management, LLC and Cadaret, Grant & Co., Inc. are separate entities.

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