Your personal information isn’t perfectly safe in the digital age — and it’s a lot easier to steal than most people think. The US Director of National Intelligence ranks cybercrime as the number one threat to Americans. We’ll show you five ways to avoid being financially devastated by identity theft.
- Monitoring all of your online activity and accounts is a major step in protecting your identity. Safeguarding your bank account, credit card and credit report data can keep a fraudulent act from snowballing. Taking preemptive steps to lock down your accounts minimizes the risk and saves time and frustration when it comes to fixing the damage caused.
- Setting up alerts is a quick and easy way to ensure your identity stays secure. Every bank should offer credit card fraud protection. This will alert you to any suspicious activity on your card like out of state purchases and other unusual activity. This also goes for your credit report. Credit bureaus also have an alert system which will send you a text or email requesting verification of newly added or revamped accounts on your credit report.
- Don’t freely give out personal information. This goes for your birth date, social security number and any other identifying information. Sometimes companies and service providers will ask you for highly-personal information when they don’t really need it. Be certain that whoever is receiving your information is legitimate and won’t share it with anyone else.
- Properly dispose of anything that contains personal data. Take extra steps to see that your information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Make sure to shred documents and dispose of them securely. If you are upgrading to a new phone or computer, wipe the memory or to take it to a recycling center that will ensure it’s destroyed.
- Use different passwords or pin numbers for every account. It’s easy to lose access to all of your accounts by using the same password or pin number for all of them. You can also greatly reduce the risk of having your personal information stolen by frequently changing your passwords. Consider using a password protection program to protect and keep track of your passwords.
Your freedom is directly correlated to the extent that your personal information is secure. Don’t let a thief compromise your finances and way of life. These are just a few simple, yet crucial, steps that can prevent and stop identity theft in its tracks.