Did you know that every two seconds there is a victim of identity theft in this country? In 2018, 14.4 million victims had 14.7 billion dollars stolen from them, according to the 2019 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research. According to the 2018 End-of-Year Data Breach Report, from 2017 to 2018, the number of compromised records increased 126%. Protecting your identity doesn’t just mean being careful of keeping your Social Security card safe anymore; there are now a multitude of ways fraudsters can access your information.
Identity theft is a serious issue, so we encourage you to protect yourself and do everything you can to avoid becoming a victim.
7 Ways to Protect Against Identity Theft
Watch your wallet.
Carry only the bare minimum and never carry things like your Social Security number, birth certificate, account numbers, passwords, PIN, spare key, or multiple cards. If your wallet or purse is lost or stolen, someone could use those items to open accounts, hijack existing accounts, go on a shopping spree, or gain access to your home – depending on what they find.
Check your credit report.
You have the right to obtain a free copy of your credit report from all three credit bureaus on a yearly basis. This is a great way to ensure accounts are not opened without your knowledge.
Update your address.
We tend to forget how important this is. Statements, pre-screened credit card offers, bills, tax information, replacement debit cards, and so much more are sent to the address you have listed on an account. Failing to update it means you could be sending sensitive information to a potential fraudster.
People will dig through dumpsters to find information that may be of use to them. Statements, expired cards, pre-screened credit card offers, and other correspondence should all be shredded.
Be wary of sharing information. Vishing, for example, involves someone calling you claiming to be a legitimate company. They may ask you to verify information before proceeding. If you have an account with said company, hang up, find their phone number, and return their call instead. It’s always better to be safe than sorry.
First and foremost, always password protect your devices. When creating a password, be sure to use capital and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. Also, use different ones; if a password gets compromised, you don’t have to worry about multiple breaches.
The internet makes us susceptible to a number of threats. Be careful with junk email, links, and Wi-Fi. Never ever open emails from unknown senders as they may contain a virus. Remember to manually type a URL instead of clicking on a link to ensure you are not being rerouted to a phony website that appears to be legitimate. Lastly, never join an unknown Wi-Fi connection. You’d be sharing a whole lot of information by doing so.