Identity theft is a serious crime that can lead to devastating consequences. It’s is one of the biggest crimes in the world. In fact, it’s estimated that over 16 million Americans have had their identity stolen in the last year alone.
For this reason, it’s essential to take steps to protect yourself from becoming a victim of this type of crime.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is the act of stealing someone’s identity, typically by obtaining their personal information such as name, social security number, bank account numbers. The term “identity theft” is also used when the victim’s identity is falsely assumed by an imposter to commit crimes in their name.
Identity theft can be committed for a variety of reasons including fraud or gaining access to someone else’s money and assets with permission granted by that person through confidence trickery. It may involve just one piece of personally identifying information (PII) or it could involve several pieces of PII like a full Drivers License Number with date-of-birth and address etc., which makes it easier for criminals to masquerade themselves as the victim.
“I was scrolling through my social media feed one day when I saw a post from my dad. He had posted about how he had just been the victim of an identity theft scam. Apparently, while he was waiting in line at the DMV, someone had stolen his phone and opened up a new account with his Social Security information. They used it to buy goods online. When he didn’t receive the item he ordered, he called customer service to find out what happened. It turns out that someone had illegally opened up an account using his SSN and name (but no picture) and they were using Snapchat for their customer service contact information.”
This is just one of the many stories of identity theft that we’ve heard over the years. Unfortunately, it is becoming more common in our digital world, and there are steps that everyone can take to protect themselves.
The first step is protecting your Social Security number (SSN). Your SSN doesn’t need to appear anywhere on public documents like advertisements, blogs posts, social media posts, etc.
Check out these 14 tips for how you can keep your identity safe and secure:
1) Don’t Give out Personal Information to Anyone You Don’t Know or Trust
If someone calls you claiming to be from your bank or credit card company, ask them for their name and phone number so that you can call them back. That way they cannot claim it was a random phone call and you didn’t ask for their information.
2) Opt-Out of Pre-Approved Credit Card and Insurance Offers
This is a great way to stop identity thieves in advance. By opting out, you no longer receive pre-approved offers by mail or phone which will reduce the amount of PII (Personally Identifiable Information) that will be available for someone to steal.
2) Shred or Destroy Documents that Have Personal Information on Them
Throwing away important documents is a common way people lose their identity to criminals. Don’t just throw them in the trash, shred them instead so that they cannot be read by anyone else. Shred coupons and receipts when you’re done with them
Beware of people who may be looking through your trash when you aren’t home. Shred all documents that include SSNs, bank account numbers, or other PII like credit card information before throwing them away. Avoid saving receipts with this info on them.
3) Protect Your Wallet and Purse at all Times
Criminals are opportunists who will look for quick ways to access your personal information. By keeping your wallet and purse safe, you can protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
4) Don’t Leave Your Social Security Card in Your Wallet or Purse
Your social security card is an important document that holds all your personal information. If a criminal gets their hands on it, they have everything they need to open new accounts in your name and access your personal information.
5) Don’t respond to suspicious text messages or emails
Keep an eye out for potential scams. If you’re unsure if an email is legitimate, don’t respond. Criminals often use social engineering tactics to scam people out of their money or personal information.
For example, they might pretend that you won a prize but must first send them your credit card number in order to “verify” your identity. If you’re suspicious, hang up the phone and do some quick research before making any decisions.
If they don’t receive a response, they will likely move on and target another victim.
6) Never click on links sent by unknown sources
It’s important to protect yourself from cybercriminals and online scams. If you receive a link by email or text that was sent from an unknown source, don’t click on it. Delete the message immediately and stay safe online.
7) Use Security Software
Having protection software installed on all of your internet-enabled devices can help keep your information safe. It’s a low-cost way to protect yourself from identity theft and fraud.
8) Use strong passwords and change them frequently
Creating strong passwords that you can remember is essential to protecting your information. However, it’s also important to change them frequently so that cybercriminals cannot access your accounts.
9) Be vigilant when using public computers
If you need to use a public computer for any reason, make sure you are cautious about which websites you visit and the information you enter. Always remember to log out of your accounts and close browser windows when you’re finished using the computer.
10) Remove yourself from online data collection sites
Most web browsers allow you to sync your data across all devices for convenience, even if that information is not necessary. For example, websites often track your browsing activity so they can display targeted advertisements.
By removing yourself from these sites, you can keep your internet activity hidden and protected at all times.
11) Use two-factor authentication if possible
Two-factor authentication is considered to be the safest way to protect your accounts. It requires you to verify that you are logging into the correct site by receiving a confirmation code as opposed to just using your password.
This prevents cybercriminals from accessing your accounts even if they get hold of your password.
12) Check Your Credit Report at least Once Per Year
You can request your free credit report online once per year from each of the three major companies that report your personal credit information: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion.
They will give you an overview of your credit history and let you know if there are any inaccuracies that could prevent you from borrowing money or renting a new apartment.
13) Check Your Credit Report Regularly for Unauthorized Accounts
Even if you already check your credit report every year, it’s important to make sure all the accounts listed on it are yours. If you notice anything that seems suspicious, contact the company that was hacked first.
If it’s not resolved, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission online after contacting your credit card company.
Call Right On Time Locksmith now at (301) 798-5333 for identity theft prevention!
These tips help protect your identity from being stolen so that you don’t have to worry about fraudulent purchases or credit card numbers being stolen and used against you.
Let us help you stay safe online, and be sure to contact us if you ever need a locksmith for your home or business.