I’m not rich or famous or even quasi important in any financial way. Banks aren’t calling to ‘convince’ me they want my banking done with them. The big non-profits in town don’t have me tagged on a prospect list as a key ‘hopeful large dollar contributor’ for their annual fundraising galas. Sure I have worked very hard to get my business where it’s stable, and I’m able to drive around in my choice of vehicles, but seriously….. Who in the world would want to be me for access to my money? Turns out, thousands!!! Yay Me!! Apparently, I have arrived.
As we have seen over the last decade, hackers worldwide are looking for any and all access to cash. They are accessing bank accounts, credit cards, they are even seeking lonely single men and women on dating sites, to extract money from – large or small amounts, doesn’t matter, because it adds up when they do it hundreds and thousands of times.
Recently I received a text on my phone that my corporate credit card had a fraud alert placed on it and I needed to call a toll free #. Upon calling the number after being asked for my social security #, I paused and said, “how do I know who YOU are? I just got a text with a number to call – THIS could be fraud. The woman replied that she understood and I could hang up and call the number on the back of my credit card which I did. Seems my corporate card had been used in Florida a few minutes prior for $6.71 which seemed a very odd amount to my card company based on my habits, so they declined it and locked my account.
Now, I’ve previously been annoyed at being out of town or state traveling on business and getting the denied card at the teller only to get a text to hit 1 if I’m trying to use my card at such and such location and it will go through or hit 0 and call them. It’s an embarrassing situation to have happen in a gas station in line to have your card denied to then have it approved and have to go back again. What a pain!!!
However, suddenly when your card HAS been compromised and someone IS trying to steal $$ using it, the annoyance of the company now and again ‘protecting me’, no longer will bother me. I was incredibly impressed that they not only stopped a problem before it happened, but then sent me a replacement card overnight federal express since I was due to fly to San Diego for business within 2 days and would need to use my corporate card.
Identity theft is a real active threat to anyone, regardless of status or finances. It can start as easily as a stolen credit card, card # or just having someone use your social security number to get new cards in your name. There are companies that guarantee for monthly fee they can LOCK and protect your identity from ever being stolen.
If, however, you haven’t purchased that protection, know that there is very inexpensive ‘identity theft’ insurance that can be purchased as an endorsement to your home or even auto insurance policy. This protection acts as all insurance; it doesn’t prevent a loss from occurring, but instead pays after the loss has happened to you.
Identity theft insurance pays to do all the paperwork and legal forms that are required to ‘restore’ your credit and then monitor it, AFTER it has been compromised. All the bogus accounts that have been established in your name drastically affect your credit score; which as we have learned, is a MAJOR indicator of the interest you pay for mortgages, loans, and other financially dependent transactions. The 3 major credit bureaus won’t just ‘clear’ up your accounts based on your word. You have to spend a lot of time figuring out how to clean up your report to restore your score. Identity theft insurance pays for this to happen without the investment of many hours of your time or $$ out of your checkbook.
So the next time you get one of those ‘annoying’ fraud alerts from your credit card company, just remember that they could just be protecting you before a loss happens, and they don’t charge you for that service.