Protecting yourself from identity theft is a necessity in our modern era. The Internet, easy access to money via credit cards, and the sometimes sub-par legislation of postal services can leave us open to attacks. However, it’s also essential for you to recognize the signs of potential theft and avoid putting yourself in a situation where you could become a target.
How Most Americans Protect Themselves from Identity Theft
Although almost 14.4 million consumers became victims of identity fraud (1 in 15 people), plenty of Americans still rely on the banks alone to protect them against this problem. Over 80% rely specifically on this method, but it’s actually safer to use a paid identity monitoring product, like Identity Guard, to protect your credit cards and other sensitive information from hackers.
The necessity for this protection becomes clearer once you see how often banks fail to report or even contribute to fraud across America.
Most Common Types of Identity Theft
- Credit Card Fraud
- Employment of Tax-related Fraud
- Phone or Utility Fraud
- Bank Fraud
- Loan or Lease Fraud
- Government Documents of Benefits Fraud
Since most Americans are reliant on bank, government, utility, or tax-related services, it’s essential to protect yourself against fraud proactively. If you notice your bills aren’t coming in the mail, you’re getting turned down for loans, or you see purchases you didn’t make on your statements, cancel your card immediately.
How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
Use Different Passwords
It can be a pain to use ten different passwords for multiple emails or logins, but it can protect you from someone hacking all of your personal information from various sources. You should also create strong passwords that are twelve characters or longer and are composed of numbers, letters, capitals, and symbols to make it difficult to crack, even with the most sophisticated software.
Never Give Out Personal Information
Phishing is a cybercrime that targets people by email, phone, or text message. Phishers will pretend to be an institution you trust, so you give up your personal information. No legitimate organization will ask you for your bank, SSI, or credit card information with these methods because they should already have it anyway. Plus, these channels aren’t secure.
Don’t Click Links and Stay Away from Shady Websites
It’s common for emails to come with a link to their website, but if you’re receiving an email from a place you don’t trust, never click on the email whatsoever. Links can be embedded in photos or text and, once clicked, could upload malware or dangerous viruses to your computer. It’s best to avoid all emails that look suspicious. Block these email addresses immediately.
Check Credit Card Reports
Make a habit out of checking your credit card reports regularly because you can’t rely on your bank to call you if something goes wrong. Depending on the hackers’ purchase, it could mimic something you’ve done in the past and won’t trigger any alarms. If you notice any discrepancies, call your bank immediately to cancel the card and report fraud.
Protect Personal Information
Shred physical records and statements that include financial and personal data regularly. It’s safer to keep most of this information online using secure channels like software or strong passwords. Also, avoid a paper trail of credit cards, ATM, and retail receipts behind because it can be used by a hacker to piece together your personal data.