The Lasting Effects Of Identity Theft

The Lasting Effects of Identity Theft

Becoming a victim of identity theft can affect you in many more ways than you might expect. Aside from the financial toll that we often think of with identity theft, there are three additional aspects of your life that could take a hit. The lasting effects of identity theft often can’t be seen right away and can be felt for years. In this article, we will outline the four aspects of your life that can be affected by identity theft.

Financial Burden

When we think about identity theft, we often think about bank accounts being compromised or credit cards opened in your name. These are common occurrences, but there are other ways you may become a victim financially.

  • A criminal can file a bogus tax return using your information.
  • Your Social Security number can be used by a thief, to obtain work, and their income can show on your file.
  • You could have financial accounts taken over which could affect any number of financial aspects of your life.
  • In complex identity theft cases, you may require legal assistance. Adding legal fees to your plate can take an extreme financial toll.

The average identity theft case will cost the victim $1,343. With this being the average, you can imagine how much extreme cases can set a victim back.

Time Spent

One of the most overlooked aspects of identity theft recovery is how much time can be spent to fully recover one’s identity. The average identity theft recovery takes 6 months and 200 hours of work.

When your identity is stolen, you’ve got to search all aspects of your personal and financial life in order to detect fraudulent activity. Once you’ve done this, you’ve got to take the steps to remediate the issues. All of this will take time. Some examples of what victims have to do following an identity theft:

  • Closing and re-opening compromised bank accounts.
  • Reporting identity theft with the three credit bureaus and working to have fraudulent activity removed from your credit report.
  • Working with the IRS should you become a victim of tax identity fraud.

Emotional Burden

A 2016 survey by the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), provides some statistics on the emotional toll that identity theft victims go through:

  • 74% reported being stressed.
  • 60% reported feeling anxiety.
  • 69% reported fear for their financial safety.
  • 8% reported feeling suicidal.

Stress is one of the most damaging things a person can endure. Stress will affect almost every aspect of your life. The burden of not knowing how your family’s financial future will play out can lead to some serious emotional issues.

Physical Toll

The addition of stress can also add a variety of serious physical issues in addition to emotional ones. The ITRC survey we referenced earlier also lists some physical effects of identity theft:

  • 29% reported new ailments, including sweating, body pain, heart and stomach issues.
  • 41% reported sleep issues.
  • 10% couldn’t report to work due to physical issues.

When you become a victim of identity theft, you may have your entire world turned upside down. The lasting effects of identity theft will be different for each person, but they can cause some serious damage. The faster you can identify identity theft, the easier it will be to reverse what has already been done.


Defend Against Phishing And Spear Phishing

You may have heard of a term called “phishing” or perhaps even its counterpart, “spear phishing”. While these terms sound like something you might do outdoors, they are different. However, they do share some similarities, which we will explain shortly. Phishing and spear phishing are schemes to trick you into providing sensitive information or allowing access to your files or PC. Learning to defend against phishing and spear phishing will help keep you and your information safe.


Much like fishing, phishing is where a thief throws out a line in the form of an email, text or any other type of message (such as Facebook Messenger) either asking for information or with a malicious link. When this link is clicked, a variety of things can happen. The thief could gain access to your device, thus granting them access to your personal information. Credit cards, bank accounts or any other important information that you store on your device would be at risk. You could become a victim of ransomware, which is where your personal files will be encrypted and cannot be accessed until you pay the hacker their requested ransom.

Spear Phishing

Spear fishing (with an actual spear, aiming for an actual fish) requires much more precision than standard fishing. This is the same with spear phishing compared to phishing. While spear phishing is still phishing, it is much more personalized. Instead of messages from random people or companies, you will receive messages that are meant to deceive you into believing they are from a trusted source. These messages can be very convincing and often look extremely valid.

What To Look Out For

  • Any message that asks you to reply with any personal information.
  • Any links or attachments from sources which you are unsure about.
  • Messages which threaten you or try to scare you into providing information.

How To Avoid Becoming A Victim

  • Do not provide any personal information through an e-mail and never click a link or download an attachment unless you are 100% sure the source is legitimate.
  • Instead of replying to emails which ask for information, call the business, family member, friend or acquaintance who sent the message.
  • Unless you know for a fact that an email or message is legitimate, you can never be too safe. It is better to take a few extra steps in order to protect yourself than to risk becoming a victim.

We hope that this information will help you defend against phishing and spear phishing attacks. Your information is the key criminals need to steal your identity, your time, your money and possibly even your sanity.

Next Steps Following The Capital One Data Breach

Next Steps Following The Capital One Data Breach

Photo: Michael Nagle, Bloomberg via Getty Images

You may have heard about a recent development regarding a massive data breach involving the personal data of over 100 million Capital One customers. A disgruntled former employee of the company is responsible for hacking the servers and releasing 80,000 bank account numbers, 140,000 US Social Security numbers and 1 million Canadian Social Insurance numbers. This breach is one of the largest in history. If you are a Capital One customer, you may find yourself in a state of panic. We are here to provide you with next steps following the Capital One data breach.

What To Do If You May Be A Victim 

  • Stay calm. If you are concerned about the safety of your information, this is a natural reaction. It is important that you try and keep your cool until you know whether your information was leaked. All victims of the data breach will be contacted directly, according to Capital One. You should wait for confirmation from the company directly.
  • Check your financial accounts. In order to find any potentially fraudulent activity as quickly as possible, you need to keep an eye on your financial accounts. Check your credit card and bank statements daily. The faster you can detect fraudulent activity, the easier it will be to resolve. If you find suspicious activity, many credit card companies will allow you to freeze your card so that no other purchases can be made.
  • Sign up with an identity theft restoration service. In the event that your identity is stolen, you may be in for hundreds of hours of work and thousands of dollars in funds in order to restore your identity. This can be an extreme burden and cause enormous amounts of stress. If you are a member of an identity theft restoration service prior to having your identity stolen, all of this work will be done for you. A company like ReclaimMyID will restore your identity to 100% of its pre-theft status. For a small, yearly fee, you can save yourself time, money and give yourself peace of mind.
  • Freeze your credit. If you detect suspicious activity, one of the more extreme measures you can take is to freeze your credit. You can freeze your credit online or by calling any of the three major credit bureaus. Freezing your credit will ensure that no one can access your credit reports without prior authorization from you. Therefore, if someone tries to open a line of credit in your name, they will be stopped dead in their tracks. Freezing your credit will make it slightly more difficult for you to open lines of credit for yourself. However, it will prevent any criminals from doing it without your permission.

Knowing that your information could be in nefarious hands can be a terrifying thought. However, if you follow these next steps following the Capital One data breach, you will find any suspicious activity much faster. This is one of the most important factors in quickly resolving an identity theft event.

Medical Identity Theft Warning Signs

Medical Identity Theft Warning Signs

Healthcare is a major topic in America right now. Many people are struggling to find affordable healthcare. While most of us do what we can to make it work, there are those who try and scam the system to avoid healthcare costs. If you have health insurance, there is a chance that a criminal could use your information for their gain. In this article we will teach you the most common medical identity theft warning signs so that you can catch a possible misuse of your information as quickly as you can.

Most Common Warning Signs

  • You’ve received a call from collections regarding a medical bill you’re unaware of.
  • You are sent a bill for a medical related service or product you didn’t receive.
  • A notification on your credit report for past due medical accounts that are unfamiliar to you.
  • Notification from your health insurance provider stating that you have reached or exceeded your benefit limit.
  • You are denied insurance due to a false condition shown on your medical records.
  • Any suspicious charges on a medical bill. This can be a duplicate charge or a doctor/hospital/service/procedure you don’t recognize.

Steps To Take If You Are A Victim Of Medical Identity Theft

  1. Contact your insurance company and ask for a copy of your medical records. You should thoroughly check your medical records for any discrepancies and notify your insurance provider. You should contact your provider by certified mail and request a return receipt so that you have documentation of what information your provider received. If you are a victim, you should be provided a new ID number by your insurance company.
  2. Obtain medical records from each healthcare provider. The FTC has a great checklist for victims of identity theft. You can read the checklist HERE.
  3. Check your credit report for any discrepancies.
  4. File a police report. You should send the report to your insurance company, all credit bureaus and all medical providers.
  5. Consider placing a credit freeze and/or fraud alert on your files. There are differences between a credit freeze and fraud alert. Learn more about them HERE.

There aren’t many things that would be more terrifying than being denied coverage for a medical service because someone had been fraudulently using your medical insurance. Keep an eye out for these medical identity theft warning signs so that this never happens to you.

Update Your Software

Computer In Dark Room

Securing important items is something that we all do. What types of items come to mind when you think about things you need to keep safe? You likely think of your house, wallet, keys, passport or jewelry. What you may not consider are the items that are easiest to break into which hold a wealth of your personal information – cell phones, tablets and computers. Just like the physical items you likely imagined earlier; your personal devices can be targeted by criminals. If left unsecured, your information can be stolen and used to steal your identity. In order to keep criminals at bay, you need to update your software. Having the most up-to-date software will ensure that your personal devices are prepared to fend off the ever-evolving schemes that are devised to steal your information.

What software should I update?

  1. Operating Systems. Every device you have, from cell phones to computers to tablets, uses an operating system to run. Your cell phone and tablet probably run on Apple iOS, Android, or Windows. Your computer most likely runs on MacOS or Windows. Developers of these operating systems send updates regularly with new patches which help safeguard your devices. The easiest way to stay up-to-date is by enabling automatic updates of your operating systems. If you don’t wish to have your devices update automatically, set up a monthly reminder to download and install new updates.
  2. Security software. Anti-virus, anti-malware and firewalls are common security software that you will find on devices. Viruses and malware are constantly changing to try and get around these types of security software. If you don’t keep these programs updated, you’re giving criminals the upper hand.
  3. Apps. Most people use apps daily. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc. These can also be hacked and often hold a lot of your personal information. Keep them up to date so you can keep your information protected.
  4. Web browsers. In order to search the internet, you have to use a web browser. Some of the most popular are Internet Explorer, Firefox and Chrome. Since you use these browsers to login to websites and enter personal information, it is a place where criminals can steal that information. You should check regularly for updates and install when a new version is released.

We live in a technological age, so much of our most valuable information is held digitally. Update your software to help secure that information or it can be used against you. Identity theft can be devastating, so do all you can to stay safe.

Protect Yourself From Online Dating Scams

Protect Yourself From Online Dating Scams

Almost everyone is wired to want to find a partner to spend their life with. Many people find “the one” in traditional ways, such as at work, church or a bar. However, online dating is quickly becoming the venue of choice for most Americans when it comes to finding love. Finding a mate online isn’t nearly as taboo as it once was, but it still comes with a significant amount of risk. Not only could you end up with a broken heart, you could also end up with a stolen identity. Learning to protect yourself from online dating scams will be a key to safely finding the person of your dreams online.

The Facts AboutOnline Dating Scams

cat·fish – lure (someone) into a relationship by means of a fictional online persona.

Imagine finding love through the computer, and then learning that the person you fell for was an illusion. This is such a common occurrence now that there are television shows dedicated to the topic. When you meet someone in your everyday life, they don’t have a computer screen to hide behind. When you meet someone online, no matter what they say, you can’t know for sure who you’re talking to. The person on the other end has time to process their next correspondence and can craft “themselves” into the perfect match.

More than 15,000 people fall victim to romance scams every year, costing them over $210 million, according to the FBI.

Spotting Warning Signs

  • Beware that people online can be from anywhere in the world, no matter where they say they are from. Improper grammar or spelling can indicate that English is not their native tongue.
  • The other person always has an excuse why they can’t meet, despite their strong desire to meet you.
  • They want to quickly move the conversation to email, text or phone call. One potential reason: Their subscription is expiring.
  • The other person is overly complementary or becomes too serious, too fast.
  • They work overseas. Many scammers will pose as military members working overseas. So many instances are happening that the Army has a dedicated division intended to stop these types of scams. Overseas contractor is another very popular “job” for scammers.

Tips For Safe Online Dating

  • NEVER give money to someone you’ve never met, no matter how in to them you are. Even if you’ve met, be extremely cautious.
  • Don’t give out your personal information or pictures. Your information can be the keys needed to steal your identity.
  • Do some research on their background info. Google their name along with the school or job/company they have listed. It is a great idea to use Google’s reverse image search to find out whether an image the person sends to you has been used elsewhere on the internet. If it has, it may not actually be their photo.
  • Sign up with an identity theft restoration service before you become a victim of identity theft.

Online dating can be extremely rewarding, but it can also end up taking you down a bad road. We hope that these tips will help you protect yourself from online dating scams and get closer to finding the love of your life.

What Is Identity Theft Restoration?

What is identity theft restoration?

With each passing year, the amount of information we are sharing grows exponentially. We share information through social media, apps and websites. Even information we don’t share is at risk of falling into the wrong hands via data breaches, hacking or phishing. Your credit card information can be stolen with a skimmer. We are a technological society now, but even the old school methods of stealing information such as social security cards, tax records and stolen mail are just as dangerous as ever.

Identity theft has become a serious issue. If your identity gets stolen, what do you do? Well, you can try and correct the issue yourself by possibly spending hundreds of hours, thousands of dollars and no telling how much stress. However, the best way to recover your identity is by subscribing to an identity theft restoration service. What is identity theft restoration? In short, it is someone who will have your back when you need it the most.

Identity Theft Restoration

The most common term is identity theft restoration but can also be called identity recovery or resolution. ReclaimMyID defines identity theft restoration as, “a set of activities designed to help consumers regain control of their identity and finances after an identity theft occurs.” These are actions you can take yourself or you can enlist the help of a certified identity theft restoration company.

A qualified identity theft restoration company will help you restore your identity to 100% of its pre-theft status. The only caveat is that you must be subscribed to the restoration company’s service before an identity theft event occurs. You may be required to grant the company a limited power of attorney in order to fully manage the recovery and you will need to file a police report. The rest of the work will be completed by the restoration company.

There are many identity theft restoration companies, you must research to find the best fit for you. Most companies will charge a yearly or monthly fee, per person. They may also offer a family price for a higher amount. However, ReclaimMyID, a proven company in the industry, will protect your entire family for just $49.99 a year. This is such a small price to pay for the peace of mind you’ll receive. Not to mention the amount of time and money it will save you should you have your identity stolen.

Identity theft is growing by the year and it will continue to do so. Give yourself the relief of knowing that if you become a victim, someone will be there to help you pick up the pieces (and put them back together for you).

Five Ways To Increase Your Security In One Day

Five Ways To Increase Your Security In One Day

From computers to smartphones, tablets to digital assistants, we are personally connected to so many items. These items all hold personal information and it can seem daunting to try and safeguard them all. We’re here to tell you that there are a few quick ways you can increase your security in almost no time. Below you will find five ways to increase your security in one day.

Review Security Settings On Smart Devices

Many of us have Alexa, Siri or Google in our homes and in our pockets. All of these personal assistants are listening in to better assist you as well as for marketing purposes. We’re connected to everything, from our phones to in some cases even our refrigerators. Take a few minutes today to review the security settings on these devices. You want to make sure that you set things up so that you have as much privacy as possible.

Install Security Software

Criminals are always finding new ways to retrieve your information, so we could all use a helping hand in staying ahead of the latest trends. Luckily, we have security software that is designed to help you detect when you’ve encountered something dangerous. Whether you encounter a fake or malicious website or accidentally download malware or a virus, these programs will help you steer clear of those sites or detect and delete any harmful files you may have downloaded.

Get A Password Manager

Your passwords are the key to so much of your personal information. Ensuring that you have unique, strong passwords for every site or app you use is imperative. Yes, this means you should have a different password for everything. Remembering all of these passwords would be almost impossible. A password manager can be installed and will store all of your passwords in one place, as well as assist you in creating strong passwords. Your passwords should be changed regularly, and some password managers can even do that automatically on several popular websites.

Review Security Settings On Apps/Websites

You may be unaware of exactly how much you’re sharing to social media or with app companies. Apps can use your camera, microphone and GPS to record and track you if you give them the permission. You may have your settings on social media set to public so that anyone can see what you post, whether they are your friend or not. Use this time to update your security settings so that you’re only sharing what you want to be sharing.

Sign Up For Identity Theft Restoration

If your identity should be stolen, you could be looking at hundreds of hours of work and thousands of dollars to restore what was lost. With all of the data breaches that are coming to light (and those yet to happen), almost everyone will experience some sort of identity fraud in the future. A domestic, certified identity theft restoration company can take care of all of the work to restore your identity should you become a victim. However, you must be registered with a restoration service before an identity theft event occurs. Give yourself some peace of mind by knowing someone has your back if it gets put up against the wall.

These are five ways to increase your security in one day. In almost no time at all, you can increase your privacy exponentially.

Don’t Get Fooled By Identity Theft Scams

Don't Get Fooled By Identity Theft Scams

In the 70’s, the band The Main Ingredient sang, “Everybody plays the fool sometime. There’s no exception to the rule.” There is a lot of truth to this statement. However, there are certain aspects of your life where you need to make sure you never play the fool. One of these is with your identity and your personal information. Criminals are always looking for new ways to obtain personal information and use it to their advantage. Don’t get fooled by identity theft scams by learning about some of the most common types.


Skimming is a scam where your credit card number is stolen during a transaction. Most commonly, a device (a skimmer) is attached to the portion of a card reader where you swipe the magnetic strip. The skimmer allows for your credit card information to be retrieved from the magnetic strip and stored. Criminals can then use this copy of your credit card to make fraudulent purchases.

Most credit and debit cards are now being outfitted with an embedded microchip which encrypts your credit card information during a transaction. We advise always using the chip instead of the magnetic strip, if possible.


When a scammer tampers with a website’s domain name system or host file, in order to reroute users to a fraudulent website, this is called pharming. Since the redirection comes from a trusted website, most users will believe that they are entering their personal or financial information on a secure and trusted website.

Before you enter any important information on any website, you should always ensure that the website is secure and trusted. In order to do this, look for a padlock in the address bar (where you enter a website’s URL). If the padlock is present, this website is secure.


Phishing is a broad term which covers any scam where you are tricked into providing personal information. Basically, any avenue where someone can contact you is a medium for phishing. Some of the most common are:

  • E-mail scams which pretend to be from a trusted website, a “family member” asking for money, a political campaign or even an institution such as the IRS or FBI. Never give personal information through e-mail, always call if information is required. Never click on links or attachments in e-mails unless you are extremely confident in the sender of the e-mail.
  • Threatening phone calls from “FBI agents” or debt collectors that you aren’t familiar with.
  • Website pop-ups.
  • Viruses such as ransomware.

The moral of the story is that you can never be too careful when it comes to your personal information. The personal, financial and possibly even legal toll it can have on you is enormous. Don’t get fooled by identity theft scams. Be smart, be safe.

FEMA Unlawfully Shared Personal Information Of 2.3 Million Disaster Victims

FEMA Unlawfully Shared Personal Information Of 2.3 Million Disaster Victims

When a natural disaster upends your family and your way of life, the last thing you need is more bad news. Unfortunately, this is the case for a large amount of recent disaster survivors. The Department of Homeland Security just released that FEMA unlawfully shared personal information of 2.3 million disaster victims. Those affected by this data leak are survivors of the 2017 California wildfires and hurricanes Irma, Maria and Harvey. It was stated that the individuals who were a part of this leak are at “increased risk of identity theft and fraud.”

FEMA Data Leak

Inspector General of the Department of Homeland Security, John V. Kelly, states that the data of 2.3 million disaster victims was unlawfully disclosed with a federal contractor. This contractor was being used to help find temporary housing for victims.

The report states that “FEMA provided and continues to provide  with more than 20 unnecessary data fields for survivors participating in the TSA program.” This information includes:

  • Applicant Street Address
  • Applicant Zip Code
  • Applicant City Name
  • Applicant’s Financial Institution Name
  • Applicant’s Electronic Funds Transfer Number
  • Applicant’s Bank Transfer Number

FEMA Press Secretary, Lizzie Litzow, made a statement saying “Since discovery of this issue, FEMA has taken aggressive measures to correct this error. FEMA is no longer sharing unnecessary data with the contractor and has conducted a detailed review of the contractor’s information system.”

In December 2018, FEMA began filtering data in order to prevent unnecessary information from being shared. However, a more permanent fix may not be completed until June 2020. According to Litzow, “To date, FEMA has found no indicators to suggest survivor data has been compromised.”

What To Do If You May Be A Part Of This Leak

  • Sign up for an identity theft restoration service that covers your entire family, such as ReclaimMyID. If you become a victim of identity theft, this company will work to restore your identity 100%.
  • Keep an eye on your financial statements daily.
  • Consider placing a fraud alert or credit freeze on your credit file.