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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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.


Additional Resources for Individuals


How to protect your Atlanta business from phishing scams

We've got tips to help you avoid online phishing scams.

We've got tips to help you avoid online phishing scams.We’ve all heard horror stories of businesses getting hacked and customers getting their personal information stolen. Chances are you’ve also heard the story of the Google Docs phishing scam that tricked people into allowing hackers access to their accounts and contacts. Online scams and hacks don’t just affect personal email accounts – businesses are susceptible, too. One online scam you need to be aware of is called phishing.

No, it has nothing to do with fish. But you’ll see the reason for the name in a moment.

Anyways, we’ll explain what phishing is and how to keep your business safe from it.

What is phishing?

Phishing is pretty diabolical. A hacker pretends that they’re a reputable entity, such as your bank, and tricks people into giving up their personal information (passwords, credit card numbers, Social Security Number, or business information.) They try to get you to give them access to things they shouldn’t have access to. There’s even a type of phishing called spear phishing in which the hacker specifically targets their victim by impersonating someone they know.

Anyways, if your business gets caught up in a phishing scam, the results could be disastrous. If one of your employees gets phished, the hacker could grab your business financial information, customer personal information, or sensitive business documents. A breach could mean lost business, a tarnished reputation, lost income, and legal nightmares. Even more unnerving is that the breach could go unnoticed, meaning that the damage carries on.

But enough doom and gloom. The good news is that there are ways to prevent phishing.

How to prevent being phished.

1. Talk to your employees about email security.

It’s important that everyone knows not to send personal or financial information using email. You don’t want someone to respond to a fake email with sensitive information. Besides, emails can be hacked.

2. Raise your eyebrows at “urgent” emails requesting personal information.

Remember what we said about spear phishing. Even if you “know” the person who sent you the email, don’t send your business or personal information to them. Their account may have been hacked or someone could be pretending to be them. Give the person a call if they absolutely need personal information…and if they act really confused, break the news gently that they may have been hacked.

Protect your business from phishing scams.

3. Monitor your business’s bank statements and finances.

Keep tabs on your financial information and bank statements and look out for anything unusual. It’s best to catch problems early and get in touch with the bank ASAP if something doesn’t seem right.

4. Don’t let your cybersecurity get lax.

Be sure to keep your firewalls and anti-virus software current. New threats appear all the time, and hackers are pros at using the weaknesses in security to muscle their way in. Keep your cybersecurity updated.

5. Caution your employees about social media.

Hackers know how to use social media, too. Unfortunately, they oftentimes use it to gather intel so that they can raise their chances of successfully tailoring their attack to their victim. Social media has its good points, but it’s crucial to be careful while using it.

6. If there’s a link, don’t click.

If you get an email that seems suspicious, don’t click on any links or attachments that might be included, especially if you don’t recognize the source. When in doubt, don’t click. Delete the email and clear you Junk folder – don’t let that thing sit around on your computer. The same goes for any spam message you receive.

7. Tell your employees how to recognize secure sites.

If you ever have to send sensitive information online, make sure that the website is secure. You’ll see https:// in the URL. You can also verify the security certificate by clicking on the lock icon.

8. Go with your gut.

When an email makes you feel skeptical, it’s probably not legitimate. Follow your instincts. Don’t mess with anything that gives you weird vibes.

So, that’s the basics of phishing and how to prevent your business from falling prey to it. Don’t let your business be a victim of a phishing attack that could hurt you.

If you want to save money on your business insurance, we would be happy to help with that. We can help you shop for the best insurance at the best rate, and we’ll take the time to understand your business and the risks you face so that we can help you create a customized insurance plan. All you have to do to get started with business insurance quotes is fill out our online form or give us a call today.


Protect your online accounts: The Google phishing scam

You might have heard about the latest hack going around – a GoogleDoc link that comes through email. It’ll read “So-and-so has shared a document on GoogleDocs with you.” The body of the message might say that that person has invited you to view something on GoogleDocs. It looks something like this:


Sorry, that was probably a bit much. You’ve probably already heard that this is going on and are aware that bad things will happen if you click that link, but still. We wanted to say it again just in case you haven’t.

So, here’s the deal: Basically this GoogleDoc link connected to an account called was going around. If you open it, you’re sent to a Google page and asked to allow “GoogleDocs” to access your contacts or account details. The only thing is that it’s not actually GoogleDocs, even though it looks totally real. It’s an app that was created to use Google to access to people’s accounts. So, the victim’s contact info gets swiped and they’re at risk for having their account compromised by a hacker. The email would then spread itself through the stolen contact list.

According to a BBC article, Google said that they had stopped the attack through getting rid of the bogus pages and apps. They moved quickly to stop the problem, which began on Tuesday night. A PC World article recommends that people who are affected check what third-party apps have access their account and to take access away from any that look suspicious. This can be done by running a Google security check up.

Another way to protect your account is to turn on Google’s 2-Step Verification, which asks you for a code when you try to sign in with your password. The code will be sent to your phone, usually by text or call. You enter the code and you’re in. So, if someone did ever steal your password they’d have a harder time getting into your account. It might not be a complete failsafe against all hack attempts, but it does provide extra security to your account.

If you have a home computer that you use frequently, you can tell it to not use 2-Step sign-in again if you’re confident that your computer is safe. It’ll still be needed on other computers, though, so it’ll still catch any strange sign in attempts that happen. That way you won’t have to get a code every single time you try to sign in, but you’re still protected.

Anyways, the moral of the story is don’t open any emails or click any links that look like they could be suspicious. Be careful about what you’re opening and be cautious about your Internet security. You don’t want anyone to get into your account and steal your personal information. That would be a real mess! Be careful to protect your email and other accounts and use strong passwords for them. And when in doubt…don’t click!

Need insurance for your home, car, rental property, business, or life? We can help! Fill out our quote form or call us today and we’ll get you a free quote. We’ll help you find the best coverage at the best possible rate.