Natural Disasters Create a Greater Risk of Identity Theft
October 3, 2023
Identity theft has grown rampant, worsening still after natural disasters. As such, government bodies have posted warnings for the public to be careful. Thieves trying to steal your personal information will attempt any means necessary to succeed. Sometimes, natural disasters make this easier when one is not careful. It could prove as simple as asking you for your name and other details at the right time.
After natural disasters, thieves may attempt to trick you into believing they work for the Federal Emergency Management Agency. Some may claim to work for other agencies or companies you might expect a call from. Regardless of the circumstance, this form of identity theft attempts to take advantage of you and soothe your concerns as they quietly worsen your situation.
Never let your guard down, even in times of high stress. The natural disaster should be the worst of your problems; identity theft should not become another box on the checklist. Always be sure of who you speak with before giving your sensitive information. No one can afford to assume and trust the person on the other line is from a government agency or other business you expect to get in touch with you.
When worried about a call’s legitimacy, consider looking up the agency’s phone number and learning whether the person on the line genuinely works for them. Many recommend contacting the agency directly and explaining what happened. Remember: Never provide sensitive information over the phone without absolute confidence that the person is legitimate.
This precaution applies to email and texts as well. Another safeguard you should take is to avoid carrying your Social Security card with you. Keep it somewhere safe and out of sight, not in your wallet. Identity theft becomes infinitely easier once the thief has your Social Security information.
Also, pick up your mail every day. Your mail automatically provides thieves with your name and address, but it could also provide sensitive information. For example, you could receive mail from your bank with bank statements, a bill from your utility company, or another company passing important information to you. Thieves will take advantage of anyone who does not regularly check their mail. If you plan to be away for some time, let the post office know to hold your mail until you return.
Even if you are very cautious, becoming a victim of identity theft is still possible. Some signs that you may be a victim of identity theft include incorrect information on your credit report, bills for accounts you did not open, or unexpected credit denials. If you find yourself a victim of identity theft, notify the Federal Trade Commission immediately. Also, inform your financial institutions and insurance companies about the situation. Another crucial step should be freezing your credit so identity theft does not impact you further.
Once you have taken these steps, consider running a self-background check next. A self-check can reveal any harm the identity theft has caused to your background and reputation. If you find unfamiliar information on the report, you must prove your identity as stolen to remove the harmful errors.
You can stay one step ahead of hackers and identity thieves by running a quick self background check. Click here to get started.