Identity theft occurs when someone steals another person’s personal info, such as social security numbers, ID information, credit card information, and other identifying factors in order to take on that person’s identity for committing fraud and other crimes. It has become a worldwide pandemic for many and the number of victims keeps increasing daily. At this point, you might ask yourself, “how can I prevent identity theft?”. In this article, we will discover ways to keep your personal information safe from criminal activity.
Be Careful Giving Out Your Personal Info
Scam artists attempt to trick victims into giving them personal information by pretending to be banks or government agencies collecting payments. They do this over the phone (texts as well), in emails, and via postal mail. A lot of times scammers will send a link for you to click on, having you think it’s a legit business. Don’t ever visit a link that you’re not familiar with or that resembles spam. Most institutions would not ask for your SSN or other personal information over the phone. Additionally, many of these companies emphasize that they don’t ask for this type of sensitive information from customers. Do not send your SSN or credit card number when emailing a company.
Always Ask Questions
Whenever we are asked for personal information that doesn’t seem quite right for a transaction, it is okay and necessary to ask questions. Where will this data be used? Will it be shared with others? And if so, how can this information be protected? If you’re not satisfied with the answers obtained and the situation sounds too good to be true, most likely it is. If you get fishy answers from asking these questions, don’t give your personal material.
Check Website Validity
End Any Pre-Approved Credit Offers
Pre-approved credit card offers are a great and sneaky way for scammers to steal your identity. When you go to apply for something of this nature, normally all of your personal information is to be shared. If you don’t want these offers any more, call toll-free 888-5OPTOUT (888-567-8688) or visit https://www.optoutprescreen.com/.
Double Check Bank Statements
Make sure to open your credit card and bank statements right away to make sure no one has made unauthorized transactions. Immediately report them if they do occur, even if you find something that seems like it’s not adding up. Sometimes this means fraudulent charges have been made without the person’s knowledge since their contact information was changed in order to hide it from them.
Practice Digital Safety
Protect your personal information stored on your devices by following these reasonable security practices on your computer.
- Use strong passwords that can’t be guessed easily.
- Update firewall, antivirus and anti-spyware software regularly to avoid malware or spyware attacks.
- Download software only from sites you know and trust, and read all the terms and conditions before downloading anything at all.
- Avoid clicking on pop-ups, you never know what website it will take you to
Be Careful Trashing Documents
Shred and destroy your old papers that contain all of your personal information on them. These include things like credit card offers, old bank statements, and “convenience checks” that you have never used. You can also use a cross-cut shredder to make it more difficult for identity thieves to steal any of your personal information.
Keep Your Documents in One Place
When storing your information, be sure to keep it all in one secluded area that only you know of. Don’t let people know where they are as anyone is subject to becoming the next victim of identity theft. Never carry your SSN card or birth certificate around, and ensure that hiring companies only make one copy of your onboarding documents.
Invest in Buying A RFID Wallet
RFID wallets work by blocking electromagnetic fields and preventing the skimmers from getting a signal. Placing an RFID wallet near your documents without them inside will not help because it needs to create a complete barrier around your document or they can still be retrieved. They vary from being on the costly side to being affordable at a range of $12-$140.
Avoid Unfamilar Websites
Phishing websites are web pages set up to look exactly like another website. They ask for the login details for that site and then they ask for some more information too. Commonly, these sites are at their most dangerous when targeting bank customers.
So how can you avoid having your information stolen? Well, first up: don’t give out any information you wouldn’t normally give out. This means no bank account numbers, social security, or home addresses. If you’re in doubt, go to the homepage of the site in question and give them a call to ask.
Install Antivirus Software
Another popular way scammers can get hold of your information is through a virus or malware. By sending a file to your computer, they can track your web usage and keystrokes, finding out your passwords as they go. The first step is not downloading any file you don’t trust. Second, you need to install antivirus and anti-malware. Make sure to take it a step further and have a company scan everything for you. Only then can you feel slightly safe on the web.
Practice Strong Password Strategies
You’re still not completely safe, though. Even with these steps, it’s possible for someone to get ahold of your password. That’s why it’s important to have different passwords for each website and to change the important ones regularly. Secure passwords are one of the most important steps against identity theft, so there’s no excuse.
Only Shop on Trusted Websites
Amazon or Play are both secure websites, but what about some of the smaller retailers? Online shopping is such big business that there are thousands of sites out there. How can you be sure they’re legit? You should check that they’re safe with your anti-virus and anti-malware programs.
Don’t Reveal Too Much Personal Information on Social Media
As we all get more social — surprisingly often with strangers — there is more and more information out there to be stolen. One of the simplest ways of preventing identity theft is by not giving away too much personal information on social media sites. This way, scammers will have to find more imaginative ways to get your info.
These are just a few simple methods to keep your identity safe online. Whatever you do, just use common sense. If you have an email from a friend containing a link and nothing else, don’t open it. There are many more tips like this that can help keep your identity secure.