By Jessica Searcy Kmetty
In the nick of time?
One week after adding a cybercrimes addendum onto our homeowner’s policy, we were notified by my husband’s employer that someone tried to file for unemployment benefits using his name and Social Security number.
Online activity/access is not only a given in our daily lives, but it is also a critical part of our business, so I try to stay aware of what’s going on universally and keep up on the latest risks. For this reason, I am also a big proponent of cybercrime insurance, identity monitoring, and identity theft and restoration insurance. In fact, my family maintains identity monitoring and has $1M in identity theft insurance in place.
Our service renews each year, and when our renewal comes up in August, I will gladly be paying the $150/year for our family monitoring and restoration coverage.
Now, let me tell you more of the story…
As I mentioned, we received a phone call from my husband’s employer saying that back in March, someone filed for unemployment benefits under his name. This person knew his name, current home address, social security number and employment information. They were able to file a claim, even without his date of birth on the application.
Here’s an update on the situation in Arizona:
The Department of Economic Benefits sent the information to his employer for verification, and his employer called to notify him of what happened. The next morning, I logged into our Identity Guard monitoring service (there are many of these services out there to choose from) to verify that nothing new had popped up. All was clear. So, I called them, verified my data/information and had my husband verify his data/information, and then they proceeded to provide us with all of the phone numbers for all the entities we should contact. They also recommended adding a fraud alert and freezing his credit.
First, we looked at his current credit report to see if there was any suspicious activity; we normally do this annually anyway.
Then, with reassurance that there was nothing new or suspicious, we filed online fraud reports with the Federal Trade Commission, the Department of Economic Security in Arizona, and filed a report with our local police (since they used our home address and we are residents here).
Next, we added a fraud alert to my husband’s three credit bureau reports (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and went one step further (for our own peace of mind) and froze his credit at each of the 3 bureaus.
Freezing credit used to cost money, time and frustration, but we were able to successfully create online accounts, verify his identity and lock everything down in about 30 minutes total. The whole process took the two of us, working together, a little less than an hour. Filing the police report required him to drop off his statement and have it witnessed at the Police Department, so we spent another 45 minutes more on that step.
Fraud and cybercrime are on the rise. Unemployment claims are on the rise. Stimulus programs are available and desirable. Anytime fraudsters have a chance to capitalize on a situation, they jump on it.
Does your homeowner’s insurance cover cybercrime? Contact your agent and find out if you are covered, or the cost of adding coverage, if it’s available. You may find it only costs a minimal amount for valuable protection.
For additional information, we encourage you to do further research. This third-party resource also covers additional information: https://www.valuepenguin.com/personal-cyber-home-insurance
There have been so many breaches now, that you are almost assured to have at least part of your data/information exposed. Over the past few years, my husband’s personal identifying information was exposed in a local hospital breach, the Equifax breach, and a Capital One breach. And these are just the ones we know of!
Chances are, it’s not a matter of “if” your identity will be stolen or your information breached, it’s just a matter of “when.” You don’t want to be caught unaware and unprotected, so take steps today to protect yourself and your family.
Please remember that different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there can be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, investment strategy, or product made reference to directly or indirectly in this content, will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), or be suitable for you or your portfolio. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or information contained in this newsletter (article) serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from Searcy Financial Services, Inc.
The content of this letter does not constitute a tax or legal opinion. Always consult with a competent professional service provider for advice on tax or legal matters specific to your situation. To the extent that a reader has any questions regarding the applicability of any specific issue discussed in this content, he/she is encouraged to consult with the professional advisor of his/her choosing.
Published for the blog on July 19, 2020 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.