Identity theft is an unfortunate reality that millions of Americans will face every year. It caused over $15 billion of losses in 2014 alone. That’s why it’s important to know how to protect yourself from such financial losses. Take the December Challenge and learn how to prevent identity theft.
December Challenge: How to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity thieves find all sorts of ways to hack your personal information – from dumpster diving to skimming to stealing your purse or wallet. It may seem overwhelming. However, there are several things you can do to prevent identity theft.
8 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft
- Secure your devices. Add password protection to any computer, tablet or mobile device. Follow these additional privacy tips for your phone as well.
- Don’t download illegal music or movies. Malware and corrupted files can easily get onto your computer if you download items from untrustworthy sources.
- Avoid any unsafe websites. If you receive an email with an unfamiliar link, do not click on it. Even if it appears to be sent from your bank or credit card company. Unfortunately, scammers are able to design emails and websites that look legitimate, but their only aim is to gather your personal information for fraudulent use. You can recognize an unsafe website by seeing obtrusive ads and pop-up windows. They also may ask you to install something. Do not do it. Finally, if you are unsure about any such messages from your bank, contact them directly to confirm.
- Initiate a credit freeze. Using a credit freeze will make it very difficult for identity thieves from taking out any new lines of credit in your name. As a result, you’ll be safer along with your finances.
- Do not give out personal information. The unsafe websites mentioned above will ask you to enter things like your account numbers, pin numbers, email addresses, and other personal information that they can use to access your accounts, or open new accounts in your name.
- Be cautious at ATM’s. Check the keypad on the ATM for any skimming devices. You should also cover the keypad while you type your password to keep it private. If you want to be really careful, use your keys to type your pin instead of your fingers so you don’t leave any heat on the keypad for someone to read after you drive away.
- Shred your private documents. Account statements and bills that contain your account numbers and personal information should be shredded before you throw them away. Dumpster diving is an old technique for thieves, but it is still done.
- Monitor your accounts and your credit report. Check your statements for any suspicious activity, and pull your credit reports at least once a year to look for any errors or unfamiliar accounts in your name.
If you do see any suspicious activity or realize your identity has been stolen, there are steps to take to resolve the issue. Watch this video on How to Fight Identity Theft to get started.
Scammers are finding new ways to steal your information all the time. Therefore, it’s essential to stay up-to-date on the latest trends to protect you and your family from a financial crisis. Finally, for more information on identity theft, visit ACCC’s Identity Theft resources.