By Guest Blogger Patrick Turlington, Assistant VP with The Phoenix Company

In the United States someone’s identity is stolen every two seconds. Those at the highest risk are individuals between the ages of 35 and 49 who are married with a household income of $75,000 or more. The top three thefts by type of fraud were misuse of credit cards, misuse of bank accounts and misuse of personal information.

How do you protect yourself?  

Talk to your insurance agent about adding identity theft coverage to your homeowners policy.  Most companies offer at least $15,000 in coverage for about $25 per year. Some companies also offer an advocacy service as part of the coverage so if your identity is stolen they will help you restore your credit and reputation.

Here are a few more tips:

  • Shred all documents instead of just throwing them in the trash.
  • Do not place outgoing mail in your own mailbox, take it directly to the post office.
  • Do not carry your social security card in your wallet or purse.
  • Get a copy of your credit report annually.
  • Change passwords often and use unique passwords.
  • Carefully review bills and/or account statements each month for accuracy and be sure to report anything suspicious.

Some of the expenses you may incur as a result of identity theft are lost wages if you have to take time off work, travel expenses, notary and certified mailing expenses, fees for replacing identification material like your driver’s license and attorney fees. If you have any identity theft protection, most of these expenses will likely be covered so you won’t have to pay out of pocket to restore your credit.

If you are a small business owner you might wonder, what risks do I have?  

Chances are if you have employees, take payments with credit cards, use online banking and provide benefits, then you have a bigger exposure than you might realize. Hackers today are specifically targeting small business owners believing that they do not have proper protection in place.  

Here are a few steps to take in preventing hackers to breach your systems:

  • Update your security software as often as possible.  
  • Control usage of your server to a select few employees.
  • Have your employees change passwords often.
  • Implement strong procedures within your accounting department.
  • Shred important documents often, and use a shredding service.
  • Purchase a cyber liability policy.

Most cyber liability policies can be complex and coverages can vary from company to company.  It is important to discuss these policies with your agent and determine which one gives your business the most coverage at the most affordable price.  

The Phoenix Company is a member of the Correll Insurance Group, one of the largest independent insurance companies in the Carolinas. Founded in 1932, we are based on the simple principle to be honest and fair in all of our dealings. As an independent insurance agency, we represent dozens of carriers which gives us the ability to make the best choice for you. From homeowners to car insurance, identity theft to all types of business coverage, the Phoenix Company can protect what you care about most.

The Phoenix Company will be hosting a FREE shred event for anyone in the community November 9 from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. For more information