How Should You Respond to the Theft of Your Identity? Your Recovery Plan

how should you respond to the theft of your identity

When you discover that someone has stolen your identity, the feeling of violation is profound. At Atlanta Insurance, we recognize the cold dread that pools in your stomach, the racing thoughts as you consider the implications, and the urgent need to rectify a situation you never asked to be in. You’re facing a unique kind of storm, but remember—you aren’t navigating it alone.

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Online shopping tips to protect yourself during the holiday season

Prevent identity theft while you're online shopping.

Prevent identity theft while you're online shopping. From cyber-attacks to phishing scams to scammers, there are tons of ways that your information could be compromised during the holiday season. Just as holiday shopping has evolved a lot over the years, so have thieves evolved into hackers. As technologically savvy as you are when shopping for online deals, scammers have become even savvier on ways to steal your personal data. So, ’tis the season to start protecting yourself from cyber-attacks! Here are 9 tips on how you can protect your information and prevent identity theft while you’re online shopping for that special someone.

How to protect your identity while shopping online.

1. Fuel Your Firewall

This is something you should keep an eye on year-round, but it’s especially important to make sure you have a strong computer security system. One of the first things that hackers look for when stealing information are holes or weak points in your firewalls so that they can use malware to sneak a peek into all of those card numbers you’re putting into websites.

There are 4 ways that hackers are usually able to get personal information:

  • Viruses – programs that can negatively change or remove computer software.
  • Trojans – programs that can create backdoors in your security systems by disguising itself as or inside of a legitimate software. These programs are some of the ones that watch your online activity.
  • Spyware – programs that hide in the background of your computer or browser and, well, spy on you. It can record your online activity, keystrokes, passwords, chats, card numbers, and even use your webcam and microphone.
  • Keyloggers – a less invasive type of spyware, but still a program that can record exactly what you type and exactly where you type it.

So, how do you protect yourself? Make sure your firewall and computer operating systems are up to date before doing any online shopping. If your computer systems are current, they’ll more than likely be able to catch, alert you to, and delete any potential threats from websites, pop-ups, or downloads.

2. Keep Track of When & Where You’re Using Your Card

When you’re buying for a lot of friends and family, it can be easy to use different cards for different purchases so that all of your spending is spread out evenly. Just make sure that when you’re using different payment methods, keep a mental or physical tab of which websites you’re using your card on and even which gift you purchased on that card. If your data is compromised, keeping track of that info can make pinpointing the perp a whole lot easier.

3. Use a Secure URL

Most internet browsers and websites have made it a lot easier for users and consumers to keep their websites secure. Secure websites are one of the ways that webmasters are keeping the web safe. See that little “s” at the end of the HTTP in your website’s URL? That extra letter, combined with the padlock symbol before it, means that the website you’re on is located on a secure connection.

4. Know how your bank handles fraud cases.

Do a bit of research on your bank and how they handle suspicious charges. Do they alert you? When do they alert you? How do they alert you? Do they have you set up travel notices? If you are the victim of fraud or stolen identities, is there a hotline to call? How responsive is your bank? How do they handle the stolen funds? How will they handle your account and cards connected to that account? What is their customer service like? Are they able to stop the charge or get your money back? How are they protecting you now and in the future?

Keep track of which payment method you're using on which site while online shopping.

These are some of the vital questions you should know about your bank’s fraud process. You should also make a mental note of the steps you’ll need to take in your bank’s fraud process to make your case as smooth as possible.

5. Do Your Research!

If you don’t know or haven’t purchased from a retailer or their site before, check out their reputation. You can do a quick Google search for the retailer’s name + scam, look for online reviews, or search the shop in the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) website.

6. Check your Wi-Fi.

Think about it – password protecting your internet connection at least puts an extra obstacle in front of a hacker. Without that protection, your Wi-Fi connection can be an open gate for a hacker to put all kinds of icky stuff onto your computer. Make sure your Wi-fi is safe and protected.

7. Know you can walk away.

Finding an online shopping website can be very similar to finding the perfect gift. If you’re not sure about it, don’t buy (from) it. If a link, ad, or website looks sketchy, it probably is. If the price on a perfect gift is too good to be true, it probably is. If you feel like a website is asking for more than the required amount of information for a purchase, it’s fine to go elsewhere. The internet is filled with tons of retail websites. So, more than likely, you’ll be able to find the same thing from a different, reputable seller.

If you’re looking for Atlanta home insurance quotes, we can help. Our agents can help you get quotes for your insurance so you can get the coverage you need to protect yourself from risk – and save money on home insurance. You can give us a call or fill out our online quote form.


What to do if your identity is stolen in Atlanta

If you're the victim of identity theft, you need to act quickly to minimize the damage.


Have you ever known someone who has been the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud? It can be a highly frustrating experience, and it can take a long time to get the situation resolved. All that aside, it can be difficult to know where to start when it comes to what to do if your identity is stolen. Being the victim of identity theft or credit card fraud is not fun, but here are a few things you can do to start to set things right.

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How to protect your identity and prevent identity theft in Atlanta

Protect your personal information and prevent identity theft.

Identity theft is a scary thing. The havoc that one crafty hacker or scammer can wreak is not to be underestimated. You’ve probably known someone who’s had their identity stolen, or perhaps you’ve even been the victim yourself. It can be such a headache. But we’ve got some tips to help you prevent identity theft and protect your personal information.

1. Be on the alert for identity theft.

There are a few signs that you should be aware of that could signify someone has stolen your identity. If this is the case, it’s best to handle the situation as quickly as possible, which means being aware of the problem in the first place.

Look out for the following:

  • Not getting your bills on time
  • Receiving credit cards you didn’t apply for
  • Having a poor credit score that is unexpected or unexplainable
  • Debt collectors asking (none-too-politely) for money
  • Accounts you didn’t sign for
  • Debts that you can’t explain

2. Be wise to phishing scams.

Phishing is when a hacker or scammer pretends to be a reputable institution, such as your bank, so that you’ll give them your personal information. They impersonate someone you trust, ask for your information, and voila – your identity is gone. Whoops. (If you’re wondering, an example of phishing is the Google Docs scam that went around a while back and tricked a lot of people.)

Be aware of any suspicious emails, or emails asking you to “verify your account information” or password. Reputable organizations wouldn’t reach out like that to sort out a problem with your account. Basically, be skeptical when going through emails. If you doubt that it’s a real email, it probably is not.

A general rule of thumb is not to give out personal information unless you were the one to reach out to a business or organization.

3. Step up your password game.

Make your passwords difficult to guess. They need to be strong so that no one can easily crack them. So, you might not want to choose something like “password” or 123456 to serve as your password.

Instead, choose a password that’s at least 8 characters long, has a mix of letters and numbers, and includes symbols (like !@#$&.) That’ll give a hacker a bit more trouble if they’re trying to break into your account.

Also, use a different password for every account. Yes, it’s tempting to use the same one for everything because it’s easier to remember, but that means that a sneaky hacker has a key to all of your accounts and not just one of them if they crack your password.

4. Don’t fall for pop-ups or spam emails.

Don’t click links in pop-up messages online or in spam emails. Those could give a hacker access to your computer and cause an identity theft situation. Not good.

Pro tip: When in doubt, don’t click.

5. Be smart on social media.

It’s important that you don’t overshare on social media. Of course, social media is great and has its perks. But the problem is that identity thieves can use the personal information you post against you. For instance, they can use it to create a scam designed just for you (which is called spear phishing) by impersonating a friend or family member using details you’ve posted to social media.

So, don’t be your own downfall by posting too much information online. Yes, there is such a thing as too much sharing.

Pro tip: Be especially cautious on social media when you’re on vacation. If you post about your plans, a tech-savvy burglar could find out and realize that your home will be unprotected.

6. Keep an eye on your credit card bills and bank statements.

It’s important that you open your credit card bills and bank statements ASAP. Okay, it’s probably not something you particularly want to do and you might do it with one eye closed and the letter held as far away from you as possible, but you need to check that all the charges and numbers look right. Everything should check out. If it doesn’t, you need to handle the situation as quickly as possible.

Also, if your credit card bill is late, call and ask about it immediately. Chances are the people wanting money aren’t going to dilly-dally about asking for it. If the bill doesn’t show up when it’s supposed to, someone could have changed the address to conceal their wrongdoing – a.k.a. fraudulent charges.

7. Be careful when you’re shopping online.

Shopping online is great…except if your identity gets stolen.

When you’re shopping online, be sure to check that the URL of the website you’re on begins with https:// and has a padlock icon next to it. This means that the site is secure and that your personal information (like your credit card number) is being protected from hackers.

You might also want to look at the website’s privacy policy to check how your personal information will be used and how it is protected.

8. Cancel pre-screened credit card offers.

We’ve probably all gotten those thick envelopes containing a pre-screened or approved credit offer. But if a thief were to steal your mail, they could cause a lot of trouble with one of those. It’s best just to opt out of pre-screened credit card offers. And you should remove your name from credit bureau lists.

9. Keep your Social Security Number safe.

You definitely don’t want anyone to get ahold of your Social Security Number (SSN.) So, you need to keep it safe. Don’t carry around your SSN card in your purse or wallet, and don’t carry anything with your Social Security Number written on it. Be careful whenever any institution asks for your SSN – ask why they want it, what it will be used for, and whether it’s truly necessary for you to provide it. Take a moment to really consider if the people asking should have it.

10. Shred any documents with personal information.

Buy yourself an early birthday present and get a paper shredder. Shred any documents that you don’t need to keep if they have personal information on it. It’s kind of fun to watch the paper get turned into teeny tiny pieces, actually.

11. Check your credit report.

You can request a free – that’s right, free! – copy of your credit report from each of the three credit-reporting bureaus every year (meaning Equifax, Experion, and TransUnion.) If there are any strange charges or unexplainable numbers, you need to raise the alarm. It’s important to monitor your credit report – your credit score and your home insurance rates are related.

12. Ask a lot of questions.

Whenever you have to give personal information, be sure to ask a lot of questions before just handing it over. Ask why they need it. Ask how it will be used. Ask how it will be protected and if it will be shared. These are all things you need to know about. It may seem a little paranoid, but you can’t be too careful. Just be polite about it and explain that you’re asking because you’re worried about identity theft.

Having your identity stolen can turn into a real mess, which is why everyone considers the possibility with a certain amount of dread. Take care to protect your identity with the above tips. The best strategy when it comes to identity theft is to prevent it from happening in the first place.

Are you looking for home insurance? Do you want to save money on your home insurance? We would be happy to help you get multiple quotes for your insurance so you can compare rates and save money. All you have to do to get started with Atlanta home insurance quotes is fill out our online quote form or give us a call today.


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