What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the unlawful use of someone else’s personal information for financial gain. This can include using someone’s Social Security number to open fraudulent accounts or obtain credit, or using their name and other identifying information to commit other crimes.
Below are 5 steps you can take to prevent identity theft:
- Keep your financial information confidential and do not share it with anyone who you don’t trust.
One way to protect yourself from identity theft is to keep your financial information confidential and do not share it with anyone who you don’t trust. Make sure to shred any documents that have your personal information on them before throwing them away. Also, avoid giving out your social security number unless absolutely necessary.
2. Use strong passwords and change them regularly.
Try to avoid passwords that include your name or family members’ names, your address, your birthday, or any other pieces of information that are easily accessible about you. Even though a multitude of passwords can seem difficult to manage, it’s important that you don’t use the same password for everything. This will leave your information even more vulnerable if a potential breach occurs. Lastly, it is important that your password document isn’t easily accessible. Find a safe place to keep them that is either locked away or encrypted.
3. Review your credit report regularly and report any suspicious activity immediately.
Credit reports are an important part of your financial health. By reviewing your credit report regularly, you can catch any suspicious activity and report it immediately.
4. Keep your computer security software up to date and enroll in additional identity theft protection.
Your computer security software is one of the most important tools you have in preventing identity theft. This software can help protect your computer from being infected with malware that could steal your personal information. It’s important to keep your computer security software up-to-date and to use strong passwords to help protect your online accounts. Make sure to keep it up to date so that it can protect you from the latest threats.
You can also opt to purchase additional identity theft protection from companies like LifeLock. These companies monitor the dark web for potential breaches in your personal information. Depending on your plan, they will resolve the issue and even reimburse you depending on how much coverage you have.
5. Be careful when using public Wi-Fi networks.
Public Wi-Fi networks are convenient, but they can also be dangerous. Hackers can use these networks to steal your personal information.
Here are a few tips to help protect yourself:
- Don’t enter sensitive information (like your username and password) into any websites while you’re on a public Wi-Fi network.
- Use a Virtual Private Network (VPN) whenever possible. A VPN encrypts your data, making it much harder for hackers to steal your information.
- Install a good security suite on your computer, and make sure to keep it up-to-date. This will help protect your computer from malware and other cyber threats.
- Be careful about what you download and install on your computer. Only download files from trusted sources, and be sure to scan them for viruses before you open them.
What if I suspect I’m a victim of identity theft?
Protecting yourself from identity theft is important, but it’s also important to be aware of the signs that you may have been a victim. Some common signs include unusual activity on your credit report or bank statements, bills for goods or services you didn’t purchase, and calls or letters from debt collectors about debts you don’t remember incurring.
Reach out to Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion – the 3 credit reporting agencies and put a fraud alert on your account and freeze your credit. The alert requires companies to verify your identity before new credit is opened and the credit freeze limits access to your credit reports so no one can open new credit (even you) until that freeze is lifted.
Trans Union Fraud Victim Assistance Department
P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016-2000
Phone: (800) 680-7289
Experian Consumer Fraud Assistance
P.O. Box 9556, Allen, TX 75013
Equifax Consumer Fraud Division
P.O. Box 740256, Atlanta, GA 30374
There are also several organizations that offer assistance to victims of identity theft, such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and the Identity Theft Resource Center.
Why is this important?
Taking these steps to protect yourself from identity theft are a critical step to achieving your financial goals. With data breaches becoming more and more common, it’s important to make sure that your hard-earned money and personal information stays safe and secure.