You work hard to establish credit and make a name for yourself. Don’t let cyber criminals steal your identity and leave blemishes that may take years to undo. Check out these 6 tips to help protect you from identity theft:
Identity Theft Protection Tip #1:
Protect your social security number and personal documents, e.g. passports and birth certificates, in a safe location, such as a safety deposit or lock box. And never give out your social security number online or in person without inquiring what it will be used for and how it will be protected.
Identity Theft Protection Tip #2:
Identity thieves have been known to “dumpster dive” to steal personal information. A best practice is to shred all statements, receipts, pre-approved credit card offers and expired plastic.
Identity Theft Protection Tip #3:
Install anti-virus, anti-malware software on your computer to search out and block anything it renders suspicious.
While reinforcing your computer’s security, strengthen your passwords too! Consider adding special characters, additional characters and multi-authentication protection when creating passwords.
Identity Theft Protection Tip #4:
Be aware of your surroundings when logging into accounts online and with your mobile device. A good practice is to shield your login screen with your free hand to avoid thieves from obtaining your password, email address, etc.
Free is great! But think twice about using free wifi in locations such as airports, cafes and even hotels – where cyber criminals can easily create free wifi hotspots and steal data.
Identity Theft Protection Tip #5:
Know how to spot and avoid phishing. This technique mimics online sites you may trust, prompting you to give personal information to log into your accounts. Verify the URL is correct – secure sites begin with https.
Identity thieves may also try to reel you in with fraudulent emails. Check out this infographic to learn more on phishing emails.
Identity Theft Protection Tip #6
Monitor your credit reports for fraudulent activity at all Credit Bureaus – Equifax, Experian and Trans Union. You can get all three in one place for free every 12 months at annualcreditreport.com. Look for red flags such as accounts you have not opened, an address you have never lived at, an account in collections, etc. If you suspect identity theft has occurred, set fraud alerts with the credit bureaus and contact your local authorities to report the crime.
Do you have any tips on how to avoid identity theft? If so, please share below: