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How to Avoid Identity Theft

by Brad Johnson on March 18, 2020
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Lock, credit cards and keyboardAs our digital footprint expands, concerns of identity theft become more commonplace both at home and at work. In response to this, data protection is now a top priority for families and businesses. The Insurance Information Institute reported 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018. Though this was a decrease from the year before—of 16.7 million in 2017—identity theft is still a major issue in the majority of consumer’s lives.

Identity fraud is also getting more complex and high-tech, attacking information that isn’t as easy to fix as a briefly breached credit card account. We’ll discuss the different kinds of identity theft below that can alter your credit score, insurance claims and even your criminal record. We will also provide the top ways to keep yourself safe in your personal and professional lives.

Companies have a responsibility to keep their employee’s information private and out of the hands of those who do harm to their financial health. With so much personal information gathered within a human resources department, it’s crucial to take preemptive steps to provide peace of mind to your team. We’ll explore who is at risk for identity theft and how you can protect yourself and your company today.

What is Identity Theft?

Today, identity theft can occur at all ages and in all stages of life. Thieves use information like social security numbers, login data, birthdays, and banking information to act in your place at a store, online, or when setting up accounts with different organizations. With the right knowledge, these criminals can open fraudulent accounts, file tax returns and make purchases with this information. 

red arrowIdentity theft, if left unchecked, can lead to lower credit scores, incorrect marks on your credit reports, loss of money, or poor marks on your criminal record. Each time someone inputs their personal information into an online system or copies personal documents, the higher the chance it can get into the wrong hands. Luckily, identity theft protection companies have precautionary and detection tools to keep this from happening.

What Are Some of the Main Types of Identity Theft?

No matter your age or level of online presence, the vast majority of Americans have some form of sensitive information online, even if they didn’t put it there themselves. Here are a few types of identity theft and the groups most vulnerable to attacks.

Employee Identity Theft

Employers and their workforce are particularly vulnerable to identity theft, according to risk management company, IRMI. Sensitive information and online data are far more likely to be stolen in the office than personal items off your desk or out of a purse. Employees are also far more susceptible to identity theft than the company’s consumers. With so much personal information arranged in one location, thieves are able to make larger decisions under the facade of their identity.

Financial and eCommerce Fraud

Financial and online identity fraud is the most well-known form of identity scamming. When a website is compromised, personal information stored on a website could end up in the wrong hands or shared at a rapid speed.  Experian reported that e-commerce fraud skyrocketed in 2017 and nearly two-thirds of consumers have identity theft concerns on their minds. Criminals can also attempt to take out loans, open credit cards, and purchase in-person items with financial data, all of which can impact a victim’s credit score.

So, why is eCommerce fraud so prevalent even in a time of increasing security? On a basic level, shoppers are particularly vulnerable online since you do not need to physically present the card to make a purchase. As more types of purchases go online, the more places consumers store their information and login data. As security companies up their game, hackers get better at breaching security walls. This is why it’s important to employ an identity theft protection agency that adapts with the times.

Medical Identity Theft

Thieves can use personal data like social security numbers and health insurance ID numbers to submit claims to insurance agencies, see a doctor, and get prescriptions under your name. The FTC recommends carefully reading any EOBs sent to your home, especially if you receive frequent medical care and could miss signs of potential fraud.

Criminal Identity Theft

In the most extreme cases, an identity thief presents falsified personal data to the police when they are arrested for a crime. If the thief gets away with it, the crime can end up on the victim’s record as the real criminal walks free. The longer the data has to circulate, the more documents and online systems contain the incorrect person’s name, making it far more difficult to remove the crime from their record.

How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

According to Norton LifeLock, one of the industry’s security companies, you can develop some simple habits to protect yourself from identity theft:

  • phone searching for wifiGive your home and work wifi password a unique name to avoid being targeted by identity thieves.
  • Use strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts. One breached account may encourage the hacker to test out your other logins with the same password.
  • Use a VPN if you have to do business on a public wifi connection.
  • Be aware of physical documents that contain personal information, even when they are thrown away or delivered to an unsecured mailbox.
  • Check your credit reports and health insurance records regularly for any suspicious charges.
  • Work with a company that employs a proper security agency to protect employees’ stored information.

Norton LifeLock does all the behind-the-scenes work that you can’t see online. Not only does it block incoming threats to your data, but it also alerts customers immediately when a threat is detected with the help of their mobile app. The company also reimburses up to a certain amount of lost funds according to your plan.

Horizon Payroll Solutions Partners with Norton LifeLock

Employers and their team now have discounted access to Norton LifeLock’s services when working with Horizon Payroll Solutions. Three levels of protection help companies and their employees protect information online: by detecting, alerting, and restoring. Norton LifeLock monitors your online presence to detect any threats, immediately alerts you of data breaches, and assigns you with a Restoration Specialist should a breach occur.

Employees can choose between Norton LifeLock’s Essential or Premier plan for both themselves and their families. In addition to a 15% discount, Horizon covers all the administration to keep you protected. Speak with a Horizon Payroll specialist to hear more about how we keep companies running smoothly from payroll to online protection.

Topics: payroll, outsourcing, business owner