Concerned about Identity Theft? Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones with These Three Stepsby Courtney Myers Professional Writer and Editor
According to research by the Insurance Information Institute, in 2017 alone, around 16.7 million Americans fell victim to identity theft. When an unauthorized person gains access to your personal and confidential files, he or she can then use that data to make purchases, illicit scams, and wreck your credit score in the process, keeping you from reaching important milestones such as buying a house. While it can be difficult to totally secure your information from reaching these hackers, especially in the Digital Age, where we leave a virtual fingerprint almost everywhere we go, there are three simple steps that everyone can take to improve their odds. Here are a few ways to safeguard your information and stay protected.
1. Don’t carry more than you have to. Sure, it’s convenient to have a sticky note in your purse with your PIN number, or the social security numbers of your children, on it. That way, when you’re at the bank, you can easily access that information if you need to. Unfortunately, so can everyone else. Carrying around important documents such as those leaves you vulnerable. Even if you aren’t physically confronted by someone, you could leave the information accidentally lying around, where it becomes an easy target for someone with less-than-ideal intentions for it. Along the same lines, don’t leave any other documents that contain your personal financial information, such as receipts, paystubs, and related papers, lying around either. Always take your gas station receipt, as well as any ones you receive from an ATM, restaurant, or store.
2. Keep your mail protected. If you are sending outgoing mail that contains sensitive or confidential data in it, don’t just leave it in your mailbox with the flag up. Doing so alerts passersby that you have something to share. Rather, take it into down and drop it into a blue U.S. Postal Service collection box. Even better, if you can take it inside a post office directly and hand it to a carrier, that’s the best route to take. Then, when it’s time to collect your own incoming mail, be sure to do so promptly every day. Research shows that your mailbox is your top vulnerability when it comes to identity theft, which makes sense when you consider how much personal information, such as bank statements and bills, we receive through snail mail every month. If you know you’ll be away for an extended period of time, such as when you go on vacation, contact the U.S. Postal Service and ask them to hold your mail, so it’s not sitting there for too long.
3. Stay safe online. These days, there is hardly anything that you can’t do online. From ordering groceries to buying gifts, with just one click you can get almost everything you need. Yet, that same easy access means that hackers are sitting and waiting for some sensitive data to slip through the cracks. To stay safe while you’re online, remember to create strong, difficult-to-guess passwords for your smart devices. Moreover, keep all of your anti-virus, anti-spam and anti-phishing software up-to-date and be sure to install the latest versions. Be wary about what links you press on and know that almost all of the “get rich quick” emails you receive are most likely spam. If you’re going to be entering your credit card information online, make sure the website is securely encrypted and shows the “https” URL rather than the standard “http.”
At the end of the day, while no one can completely avoid an identity theft attack, there may be a few things you are unconsciously doing that are working against you. By learning as much as you can about theft protection, you’re taking the critical first step toward keeping your family safe. Your personal data is just that, personal, and these three reminders can help you keep it as such.
Created on May 11th 2018 10:28. Viewed 1,355 times.