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How to Prevent Identity Theft
Your personal details are valuable to a thief. If they can steal your identity, they can get credit cards in your name. They can buy things using your bank details. And, they can use your medical insurance to get treatment.
If you are a victim of identity theft, it can cost you money, and a lot of your time. Your credit score could be wrecked. You could spend hours and hours cancelling cards, disputing payments, and getting your credit score fixed.
You can’t prevent all attempts to steal your identity. That’s why you need to be on constant alert for the signs of identity theft. You can, though, take these important steps to help prevent identity theft.
1. Keep Up to Date with the Latest Scams
Phishing scams get more and more elaborate. Scammers are forever coming up with new ways to get hold of your personal data. Keep up to date with the latest scams and scam alerts. Being aware of what thieves are currently trying will help you avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
2. Set Up Alerts on Your Cards
Some card providers have alerts that you can set up on your accounts. These alerts will notify you of any suspicious or unusual transactions. If your card provider offers alerts, it’s worth taking advantage of the service. If they don’t’ you might want to think about opening an account with a provider that does.
3. Buy a Shredder
Some thieves will steal your personal information the old-fashioned way. They will have a good rummage through your trash to find documents with information on that they can use. Preventing this type of identity theft is easy. Buy a shredder and shred all your documents and your mail before you put it in the trash.
4. Use Multifactor Authentication When it is Available
If a website offers you multifactor authentication, use it. Multifactor authentication requires a password and a second authentication method as well. The second method might be a confirmation via email or by text message. It’s a bit of a nuisance if you are in a rush, but it does provide another level of protection.
5. Monitor Your Accounts
Review all your bank statements and credit card bills. Look out for any transactions that you don’t recognize. The earlier you spot identity theft, the easier it will be to deal with.
6. Monitor Your Credit Report
Keep a close watch on your credit report. You can get a credit report from any of the major credit bureaus. Some also offer credit monitoring services that will send you alerts. If your identity is stolen, the thief may take out loans in your name. If you keep a close eye on your credit report, you will be able identify anything suspicious that has affected your credit score.
7. Use Secure Wi-Fi Connections
If you use unsecured wireless internet connections, other people will be able to see your data. Only use secure Wi-Fi connections. If you don’t, all your other efforts to prevent identity theft might have been in vain.
8. Use Strong Passwords
Use strong passwords that contain special characters, numbers and letters, and a combination of upper-case and lower-case characters. Never use anything that a thief could guess. Remember that even things like your kid’s or pet’s names can probably be found on your Facebook page.
9. Don’t Use the Same Password for Everything
Avoid using the same password on every website and app that you use. Even the biggest sites sometimes experience data breaches. If your password is found and you have used it across all the sites you use, a thief will have access to everything.
10. Protect Your Passwords
Cyber criminals know where to look on your computer for your passwords. The best way to manage passwords and to keep passwords secure is to use a password protection service, like keepersecurity.com. Keeper security generates random passwords for you and stores them in an encrypted vault. You never have to remember passwords and no one else can get at them.
11. Cancel Cards as Soon as They Are Compromised
As soon as you become aware that someone else has used your credit or debit card, inform your bank and cancel the card. It can be inconvenient to be without a card for a few days. But it’s much better than lots of fraudulent transactions going through your account.
12. Watch Out for Scam Web Sites
Only buy products and services from web sites that you trust. Look for the HTTPS at the beginning of the URL to make sure that the website is secure. If there is no HTTPS, the data you enter on the website could be seen by someone else. Be aware that scammers sometimes set up fake websites to steal personal details from people.
13. Keep Your Online Security Software Up to Date
Use antivirus software that includes anti-phishing protection. Always keep your internet security software up to date. Cyber thieves are constantly coming up with new ways to steal your data. Keeping your internet security software up to date will help thwart them.
14. Don’t Share Your Personal Information with Anyone
Always be careful about who you share any personal information with. That information includes your date of birth, your social security number, and your bank account and credit card numbers. If anyone asks you for personal information, think twice before you provide it.
15. Be careful About What you Share on Social Media
Be very careful about what you share on social media. Thieves can pick up a lot of personal information about a person from a Facebook page. A photo of you outside the door of your new home, for example, could give a thief your address. A picture of you paying for lunch with your credit card could give away your card number.
16. Review Your Medical Statements
Review your medical statements carefully. Look for anything that you don’t recognize. If you have become a victim of identity theft, the thief could be having medical treatment on your health insurance.
17. Notify Your Bank of Any Errors on Your Account
If you see any errors on your bank statement or credit card statement, report them immediately. Even a very small transaction that you don’t recognize could be a sign that your account is being used fraudulently.
18. Pick Up Your Mail Every Day
Don’t leave your mail lying around any longer than you need to. Pick it up from your mailbox as soon as possible, deal with it, and then shred it. If you haven’t already got one, buy a lockable mailbox.
19. Watch Out for Late Mail Deliveries
If important mail, like bank statements and credit card bills, don’t arrive, notify your bank or credit card provider straight way. Ask them to confirm the address that they have on file for you. If mail is not arriving, it could be a sign that your mail is being intercepted.
20. Lock All Your Devices with Passwords
Make sure that all your computers and mobile devices need a password to access. Mobile devices without passwords are a big risk. If your phone gets stolen and you don’t have a password on it, the thief will have your phone, and access to all your private information.
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