Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

What is identity theft? Simply put, it is when someone steals your identity by pretending to be you. This would allow the thief to obtain benefits, borrow money and take other actions in your name. As a result, you may be held responsible for those actions and debts. The person committing identity theft will use information of a personal nature that identifies you, such as your name, credit card number or social security number to commit this fraud.

There are ways to prevent identity theft from occurring:

Do not trash your identity

You will receive many documents in the post that will have your name and address on them, such as credit card statements or utility bills. Before throwing them away, shred the documents so that any personal information on them cannot be read.

Check your bank statements and bills

Your bank statements and bills will normally arrive around a particular date each month. If they do not, contact the issuer of these documents. This is to ensure that you have not been subject to identify theft by someone who may have changed your address on the bank or credit card. Why would they do this? To hide any fraudulent transactions.

When your credit card, cell phone and bank statements arrive, check the transactions to ensure there is no unusual activity. Report anything you find to the issuer of the bill.

Protect your Social Security number

Never keep your Social Security card in your purse or wallet. With the exception of Medicare, do not allow your Social Security number to appear on any other cards.

Pre-approved credit offers should be stopped

To have pre-approved credit offers stopped you should ask for your name and address to be deleted from the marketing lists of the credit bureaus. It is one less source of information for people committing identity theft.

Avoid phishing

“Phishing” is when someone contacts you unexpectedly by phone or e-mail, pretending to represent your bank or other institution. The phisher will ask that you confirm some of your personal information, such as your date of birth, password, Social Security or account number. Don’t provide information, as it could be used to commit identity theft. Your bank, mortgage company or credit card company will never call or email and ask for that information.

Monitor your credit reports

Check your credit history on a regular basis with the national credit bureaus to ensure there is no unauthorized activity. For instance, someone committing identity theft may have taken out and used a credit card in your name. You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report each year from each of the three major companies. To order, visit or call 1-877-322-8228.

Protect your computer

Use reputable spyware, virus and firewall protection software on your home computer and laptop to prevent others accessing your personal data. Take care when selecting a password to use for things like online banking: make the password as complex as possible.

Identity theft insurance

Before you fall victim to identity theft, protect yourself with identity theft insurance.

Identity theft insurance is sometimes available through your homeowners policy or as a stand-alone policy. This type of insurance will not clear the debts incurred by someone using your name to open a credit card, but it may cover the cost of repairing your credit report and help to restore your identity. It may also cover expenses like attorney fees, phone calls and lost wages.

Contact us if you live in the greater Baton Rouge area, and one of our agents from Lanoix Insurance Agency will be happy to discuss your needs and offer a free no-obligation quote.