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ID THEFT AND MITIGATION OF RISK

With the widespread acceptance of the remote work environment, identity theft has become a greater concern than perhaps ever before. In spite of heightened levels of awareness and implementation of improved technologies aimed at prevention and protection, identity theft continues to increase at an alarming rate, putting both employees and employers at significant risk.

The issue has become serious enough that many employers are including an identity theft protection program in their employee benefit package. A quality ID protection program will include credit monitoring and credit change notifications, unauthorized account access alerts, compromised password warnings and communication regarding address changes, fund transfers, public record alerts and more.

The following represent some of the more commonly utilized methods whereby criminals seek to gain access to an individual’s personal information and what someone can do to mitigate the risk:

·         Lost Wallet or Purse: Logins, passwords, Social Security cards and excess credit cards should not be kept in a wallet or purse. Copies of the front and back of all credit cards should be made and card issuers should be called as soon as possible after a loss.

·         Mailbox Theft: Secure mailbox, pick up mail promptly and sign up for USPS Informed Delivery which will provide an email containing images of the items that should be delivered so the recipient will know if anything is missing.

·         Through Public Wi-Fi: Avoid using public Wi-Fi for anything where personal information may be used, like for shopping, banking, or other sensitive transactions. VPNs (virtual private networks) can create a secure connection.

·         Database breaches: Assume that personal data has already been accessed and take appropriate precautions. Monitor credit scores and reports routinely, watch for unexpected changes, and read financial and insurance statements carefully.

·         Phishing: Don’t give out personal data in response to an email or call but instead look up contact information from a trusted source, such as the institution’s website to verify the legitimacy of the call or email.

·         Gas Pump Skimming: Use credit cards with chip protection or pay inside the station to decrease risk. Detect fraudulent activity early by setting email or text alerts that let you know when your credit cards are used. If a card is used without your authorization, call the issuer immediately.

·         Phone Scams: Be alert for scams…don’t give personal information to callers over the phone. Most legitimate institutions will not ask for personal information on the phone.

·         Eying Code/Pin Entry: To avoid having someone watch you enter a password or pin, be aware of surroundings and block others from seeing sensitive data. Don’t leave information where others can view or access it.

·         Malware: Caution should be used when visiting websites, and before clicking on attachments or links in emails. Use of a password manager is a good idea.

The Monroeville Area Chamber of Commerce offers its members access to My Benefit Advisor as a solution for employee benefits, including voluntary offerings. For more information about My Benefit Advisor, visit our website at macc.mybenefitadvisor.com or contact Rob Higginbotham at (800) 377-3539.