Did you shop at Target the few days before Christmas?
My friend said, "It was GREAT. The store was totally empty and I could get everything I needed quickly. Of course, I have identity theft protection so I wasn’t really that concerned!”
On 12/19, Target sent emails to their customers alerting them that almost 40 million credit and debit cards were stolen (more recently it's been reported that 110 million Americans were impacted - payment data of 40 million customers and the personal data, such as phone numbers and addresses, of as many as 70 million people). This was not limited to Target credit card holders - anyone who used a credit card at a store could be affected. Since then, Target has cautioned customers to “check your account for unusual activities.” Um…YIKES!
Should you be concerned? Yes!
Whether or not you were one of the 40 million affected by the Target breach, here are 4 reasons you want to explore having an identity theft protection program….
1) You don’t know how bad it really is
An identity theft fraud event occurred every 4 seconds in 2011.
To truly understand, it’s important to know the difference between “credit card fraud” and “identity theft.” I spoke with Dave Carlson, President of the Membership division of Augeo Consumer Engagement Services, LLC, a company that’s provided peace-of-mind identity theft protection services since 2005.
According to Dave, “While taking existing credit cards and using them is a serious crime, it’s not true identity theft which can have long term devastating effects on the victim. Credit card fraud is short term and relatively easy for companies and consumers to catch. True identity theft is when someone accesses your resources to get credit or other benefits in your name. An identity thief wants to assume your identity long-term, not just to use your credit card for a couple purchases. They are looking for ways to clone you and make money from your information for as long as they can!”
If you’re still not convinced, we wrote an article about the truths and fallacies in the recent movie, Identity Thief. In the article, we explore the real-life consequences of being a victim of identity theft (and it’s scary!).
2) You’re a sitting duck (as they say)
I could bore you with a million stats about the growth of this type of crime, but the bottom line is that it could happen to you at any minute and there’s no way to “DIY” so you might as well get help and be protected! According to the FTC, identity theft affects as many as 10 million Americans each year. Identity theft is one of the most popular forms of consumer fraud because it is the most profitable and continuous technology advancements make it hard for perpetrators to be caught.
3) It’s cheap
In other words, you can pay for it by cutting out a Starbucks trip each week. Totally worth the peace of mind (and do you really need that caffeine anyway?)!
4) If it happens to you, you’ll need help
I considered calling this section “Restoration is a bitch!” and then decided that might be a bit harsh. But, it’s true! The average amount of time between the date an identity theft occurs and the date it’s discovered by the victim is 14 months. Imagine the havoc that can be wreaked on your life, finances, etc. over 14 months. Recovering your identity can cost thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours. Most identity theft protection programs have experts to guide you through this process with less time and money spent. Just think: if you shopped at Target in early December and believe you’re in the clear because you’ve not seen any suspicious activity - it could be Valentine’s Day 2015 before you learn of an identity theft. Wouldn’t you want someone to help you navigate through the clean up process?
Now it’s your turn to tell us your story. Have you been a victim of identity theft? Did you shop at Target in early December – were you on their list? Do you have an identity theft protection service?