Millions of consumer records were stolen in headline-making data breaches this year. Those records contained sensitive information, from credit card numbers to addresses and even Social Security numbers. Chances are you have already been a victim of one of these data breaches, but if you weren’t, you probably would be in the future. While you may not be able to stop it from happening or prevent criminals from selling your information on the dark web, you can be proactive in your attempts to damage to your finances.
To protect yourself against a data breach, you must act before you are ever a victim. Taking proactive steps, such as shredding your private documents and installing anti-virus software on your computer, can help prevent your information from being exposed. If your data is leaked in a corporate data breach, however, there is little you can do to stop it from falling into the wrong hands. What you can do, however, is be alert to the activity in your personal accounts and credit report.
Start by enrolling in a credit monitoring service that will periodically scan your credit report for signs of identity theft. These services typically send an alert to your email address or phone when activity is detected that could indicate fraud. You may be notified if a new account is opened in your name or if the balance on one of your revolving accounts is significantly increased. If someone is applying for credit in your name, try placing a fraud alert or ‘freeze’ on your credit to make it more difficult for criminals to open new accounts.
Next, make a habit of scanning your financial statements each month instead of filing them away or shredding them. Bank statements and credit card statements may contain red flags, but you cannot find them unless you review the charges. If you do find unauthorized activity, notify your bank or credit card company right away.
Finally, be sure to add identity theft insurance to your insurance portfolio. Identity theft coverage helps pay for the out-of-pocket costs associated with clearing up your credit report. Although this does not include the actual liabilities created in your name, it can include other costs, such as legal expenses, travel costs, and time off work. If you do not have identity theft insurance, talk to an agent here at Smith Insurance and Financial Services about how you can purchase a stand-alone policy or add this important coverage to your homeowners, renters, or condo insurance.
Protect Your Business
If you own a business, you probably have several insurance policies that protect you against various hazards and perils. One often overlooked risk, however, is the threat of cyber-crime. With data breaches on the rise, cyber-crime insurance is essential for most businesses – particularly those that store sensitive customer information.
Insurance underwriters typically require businesses to comply with certain standards before issuing coverage. Though these may vary from company to company and depend on your business size and industry, you may be asked to:
- Create a contingency plan
- Educate staff and employees about cybersecurity
- Regularly update your software
- Submit to third-party testing and audits
If your business qualifies for coverage, you can relax knowing you are protected against financial loss. Typically, commercial coverage will help pay for a wide range of expenses, including the cost of notifying victims of the breach and paying for their credit monitoring if necessary. It can also cover business interruption, the cost of removing viruses from your company software, website reconstruction expenses, punitive damages, and more.
For more information about personal identity theft insurance or how you can better protect your business against a data breach, contact our office today.