A Little Protection Can Go A long Way
In the internet age, identity theft is more common than ever. With all our data circulating the internet and hacking technology improving, everyone must use online protection. This protection will reduce the risk that someone steals your identity.
Some of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft are:
- Guarding your social security number.
- Using additional authentication steps.
- Using a secure mailbox.
- Freezing your credit.
- Monitoring account statements.
- Shredding important documents.
- Using passwords on mobile devices.
This article will go over each of these methods and how they can help you to protect yourself from identity theft.
1. Guard Your Social Security Number
One of the most common ways that identity theft occurs is when someone steals your social security number. With your social security number, someone else can open a credit card under your name, resulting in thousands of dollars in debt.
The best way to guard your social security number is by only keeping your social security in paper records. Keep your government-issued social security card in a safe where you are the only person that can access it. You should also memorize your social security number, so you don’t have to write it down.
If you must store your social security number physically, never label it as such. That way, even if someone gets ahold of it, they will not know what number they have.
2. Use Additional Authentication
When you register for an account online, you create a password. The idea is that you are the only person to know this password, so you are the only one that can access the account. However, some software has been developed that allows hackers to figure out your password and access your account, stealing sensitive information.
To prevent this from happening, you should add an authentication step to important accounts like your bank and credit card accounts. One of the most common additional authentication steps is receiving a code on your phone that you will also have to input.
It makes stealing your passwords significantly more difficult since the thief would need access to your phone and password to get into your account.
3. Use a Secure Mailbox
One of the most common ways that thieves perform identity theft is by stealing your mail. To prevent this, you should always use a secure mailbox. Nowadays, there are even lockable mailboxes that you can use to prevent your mail from being stolen.
If you are worried that someone may be stealing your mail, you can sign up for the USPS Informed Delivery program. Through this program, you can receive reports of what mail you should be receiving. That way, you will know if something goes missing and can take the appropriate action to prevent identity theft.
4. Freeze Your Credit
The most common type of identity theft is credit card fraud; this occurs when someone opens up a credit card or other line of credit under your name. Other than protecting your personal information, the best way to prevent credit card fraud is to freeze your credit.
To freeze your credit, you will need to go to all three major credit bureaus and freeze your credit, preventing anyone from opening up a new account under your name, even if they have your personal information. When you are ready to open up a new credit account, you can unfreeze your credit.
5. Monitor Your Account Statements
Even if you follow all of the recommended steps to prevent identity theft and online identity theft, it can still happen. The best way to catch identity theft is by carefully monitoring your accounts.
Too many people quickly skim their bank statements and shred them after receiving them in the mail; this leaves them vulnerable to someone making charges to their account and not noticing.
Every time you receive an account statement or credit report in the mail, you should read over it completely. If one or more of the charges does not make sense, highlight it and contact your bank or credit card company. They will be able to give you more details about the charge to determine whether someone else is making charges to your account.
6. Shred All Paper Statements
Although many banks and credit card companies have moved to digital bank statements, some banks still send paper statements at the end of every month. These statements will detail all of the transactions made during the month.
Once you have finished carefully reviewing your statements, you should dispose of them. However, never throw them into the trash. These documents will contain account numbers and other sensitive information.
Before disposing of your bank and credit card statements, you should always shred them; this will prevent anybody from coming across your documents and using the information to steal your identity.
7. Use Passwords on Mobile Devices
One last ID protection step that you can take is to use passwords on all of your mobile devices. Most people keep personal information such as passwords to bank accounts and personal information like birthdays on their phones. If someone takes your phone and it does not have a password, they will be able to access all of this information.
Identity theft is extremely common and happens to thousands of people every day. Identity theft can have lasting consequences and often leaves people scrambling to undo the damage. However, there are ways to prevent it.
The best way to prevent identity theft is to keep your personal information private. Keep your sensitive documents in a secure location and only share that information with trusted people.
You should always keep track of how much money you are spending and where you are spending it. That way, you can freeze your cards quickly if you notice suspicious transactions.