How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Identity theft can be a very real and terrifying thing that many people will unfortunately experience. The issue is that the majority of people don’t know how to protect themselves from identity theft in the first place.
Some people pay for monitoring services to try to prevent identity theft. There are ways that you can take responsibility and reduce any chance of being a victim of identity theft.
What Exactly Is Identity Theft?
The most common types of identity theft are credit card fraud and tax-related fraud. It’s important to be aware of what these things are so that you can take the necessary steps to prevent being involved.
“Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name, and perhaps to the other person’s disadvantage or loss.” According to the all-knowing Wikipedia
There is a myriad of vicious things that thieves can do once they have your information. From something small like buying a movie ticket with your card to using your social security number to steal your tax refund!
The most common practice is to apply for credit cards under your name and withdraw money from your bank account and unless you are paying close attention to your monthly statement, smart thieves steal small amounts over a long period of time that go unnoticed.
Here is what you need to know to protect yourself from identity theft:
The Importance of Passwords
Everything you do online should be password protected. Use a complicated password that is difficult for hackers to break and use phrases that won’t appear in a password list file. For eg. Don’t use P@ssword thinking you are smart as that is very common. Instead, use something like ILike4mileHikeS! which is much better
Not only should you have plenty of passwords online, but every device you own should also be password protected and don’t reuse the same password across the devices/ websites/ apps.
Pin numbers for credit or debit cards are often birthdays, addresses, or the last four digits of your phone number. If this is what you are doing now, change it ASAP.
Avoid Strange Links
Who still clicks on dodgy links? A LOT OF PEOPLE.
Scammers send millions of emails a day in the hope that a small percentage will click. They hope to catch you at a time where you aren’t focused and you will click on the link just to get it out of the way. This is especially powerful when a time-pressure technique is used such as “if you don’t change your password, we will be forced to terminate your account in 24 hours”
If Amazon or your bank really needed you to change your password, there would be a notification on the website the next time you log in. They would never send you an email with a link to change your password from a Gmail email address.
Pay Attention to Your Credit Report
There are plenty of free services online that allow you to check your credit score and keep an eye on your credit report. This is a must to ward off identity thieves. Your credit report will show if there has been any recent suspicious activity on your credit card or your bank account.
You can opt-in for notifications that will instantly let you know if the credit report company notices anything out of the ordinary. Plus, this allows you to stay on top of your credit use. It’s important to let your bank or credit card company know if you plan any international travel or large purchases. This way they’ll know that specific activity isn’t suspicious.
Don’t forget to set up notifications on these apps that will notify you if a new account has been opened in your name. If it wasn’t you, call the bank immediately to report it!
Also make sure you have your phone protected so its now easy for hackers to get your info via a dodgy app.