Today’s electronic era brings us efficiency and speed. We can pay back a friend simply by sending a text, apply for a loan online and deposit a check just by taking a picture. Convenient? Absolutely. But this ease can come at a price. As consumers, fraudsters can access our personal information in new ways, making cyber security and identity protection a growing initiative.
According to a new 2017 Identity Fraud Study from Javelin Strategy & Research, 15.4 million Americans had their information stolen by fraudsters in 2016. Once fraudsters obtain victims’ information, it can wreak havoc on victims’ credit history and wallet, potentially impacting a consumer’s ability to get a loan or open new accounts.
How do fraudsters obtain your personal data? Cybercrime, including cyberattacks and data breaches, continue to be a growing contributor to the increase of identity theft. The Identity Theft Research Center reported just over 300 data breaches in 2006. Nine years later, this number was up to a whopping 781. (Unfortunately the actual number of cybercrime may be even higher, as many attacks and breaches go unreported.) This resulted in over 28 million consumer records being exposed in 2015.
Cost of Having your Identity Stolen
What are the implications of identity theft to consumers? A recent report from Javelin Strategy & Research found that thieves stole $16 billion due to identity theft in 2016. This puts the mean fraud amount per victim at just over $1,000.
Proactively Protecting Your Information
For most of us, keeping our information off the web isn’t an option, even if you never go online yourself. So how can a consumer protect their good name and monitor for fraudulent uses of their information? Start by staying alert – literally. If you haven’t already done so, set up spending and activity alerts with your bank, credit union or credit card provider. Most institutions allow customers to sign up for alerts on purchases or transactions that exceed a particular dollar limit, occur overseas, or for purchases that are out of the ordinary.
Then, keep tabs on your credit score and history. The three major reporting companies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) are required to give you a free copy of your credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com or call 877-322-8228 to order your report. Review your report carefully for warning signs of actual or potential theft. These can include mention of a credit card, loan or line of credit that you never applied for.
For consistent, proactive monitoring of your information, consider signing up for a credit monitoring or identity theft resolution service, like IDProtect, which now comes standard with our new Green and Stellar Plus Checking accounts. (Both types of accounts require $100 to open.)
Identity Protection at no Additional Cost
The security and privacy of our clients’ information is of the utmost importance. We wanted to help people proactively monitor uses of their information, and offer a way to help them if their personal details ended up in the wrong hands. That’s why we’re proud to offer IDProtect at no additional cost with our Green and Stellar Plus Checking accounts. IDProtect, offered through Econocheck, is an identity theft monitoring and resolution service for you and your eligible family members.
How does it work? As a Green or Stellar Plus Checking account holder, you’ll first need to register your information on Econocheck’s website, SecureChecking.com. From there, IDProtect will provide you with credit file monitoring, 3-in-1 credit reports, identity theft expense reimbursement coverage and resolution services.
IDProtect also includes total identity monitoring of more than 1,000 databases for your name, address, date of birth and Social Security number. You’ll get daily monitoring of your credit files with alerts via email, and text (if activated). Plus you can request to receive a new credit report every 90 days or upon receipt of a credit alert so that you can double check your report details. Some benefits of IDProtect do require registration and activation, but are all available at no extra cost to Washington Federal Green or Stellar Plus Checking account owners.
Help if Your Identity is Stolen
In the event you suffer identity theft, you’ll get a dedicated fraud specialist assigned to manage your case. This specialist will handle the recovery process until your identity is restored. You’ll also get up to $10,000 in identity theft expense reimbursement to cover expenses associated with restoring your identity. These could include reimbursement for costs associated with attorney fees, loan application fees, long distance calls or coverage for wages lost for time taken off work to correct your personal records.
Start Better Protecting Your Family's Identity
If you’re a current Washington Federal checking account client, then we’ll be reaching out over the next few months with details about your checking account(s) and information about how you can access these benefits.
New to Washington Federal, or want to open a Green or Stellar Plus account? Contact your local branch or call us at 800-324-9375 to get started.
IDProtect is not insured by FDIC or insured by any Federal Government Agency; not a deposit of or guaranteed by the bank or any bank affiliate. Click here to visit our Secure Checking Benefits page to find out more and access full benefits disclosures.