Your wealth is your health
While many self-care routines focus on improving physical or mental health, maintaining good financial health is also crucial to overall well-being. A 2016 study based on the purchasing behavior of 33,720 U.S. households linked economic instability with increased use of over-the-counter pain medications. People struggling with debt also have an increased risk of perceived stress, depression, and hypertension.
Socking away money into a savings account or balancing a grocery budget might not seem romantic. However, prioritizing financial health is one of the best ways to show you care about yourself and those you love.
To help our members* stay financially fit, we’ve partnered with Experian to provide identity protection services. Experian’s proven track record as a leader in the credit industry uniquely positions it to offer robust service – with a personal touch.
Why are identity protection services important?
Identity theft can wreak havoc on your financial life – and it can sometimes take years to recover your money and good credit score. While the internet can provide a world of shopping and bill paying convenience, this often makes it easier for thieves to get their hands on sensitive information.
We’ve complied a few of Experian’s top tips to help you protect your identity and stay financially fit.
- Shop from trusted sites
Sites where credit card information is stored are highly targeted by identity thieves. Shop at stores that are known and trusted. These sites usually have an “https” in front of their URL instead of just an “http.” With email phishing also on the rise, it’s best to avoid clicking on questionable links. Some good rules of thumb are to hover over the link first to see the destination URL and if the URL does not match the company’s website or seems suspicious in any way, contact the company immediately via their official website or phone number – not by responding to the email.
- Beware of phone scams
Many scammers call people demanding payment for medical or tax-related debt. Some scammers even threaten action from law enforcement. However, legitimate debt collectors and the IRS usually use the U.S. Postal Service – not phone or email – to communicate debt-related information. Be mindful about sharing personal information with someone who calls you. When in doubt, do not give any information and hang up immediately. Ensure you’re speaking with a verified agent by calling the organization directly using the number on your credit/debit/medical card or contacting them via their official website.
- Guard your Social Security number
If there’s one piece of information that is the holy grail for identity thieves, it’s your Social Security number. You almost rarely need your physical card, so keep it safely tucked away at home or in a safe deposit box. Also shred any documents that contain your Social Security number – and any other personal info, for that matter. And if you need to share your Social Security number with someone, it’s best to do it in person or over the phone – not via electronic messages such as email or text, as these can be easily hacked.
- Keep an eye on your medical benefits
While identity theft is often associated with credit card fraud, medical ID theft does happen and can affect accounts with smaller balances – such as an HSA or FSA account. Both HSA and FSA accounts use pre-tax dollars to pay for qualifying medical expenses. However, their annual contribution limits are different, HSAs are owned by an individual while FSAs are employer-run, and HSAs require you to have a high-deductible health plan (HDHP) but FSAs can be used for any health plan. Keeping an eye on these balances and noting any unauthorized activity can ensure that any medical ID theft is nipped in the bud before it becomes a major problem. If you are truly concerned about protecting your HSA and FSA accounts, you can request that the companies that manage these accounts contact you to verify transactions.
While getting financially fit might seem as daunting as losing weight in a doughnut factory, learning how to protect your identity can empower you to make positive changes to your financial health – as well as your physical and mental health.
Learn more about Blue Shield’s recent partnership with Experian to provide identity protection services to eligible members.*