In a world where we are getting more and more connected, it’s becoming hard to prevent Identity Theft. ACM investigations have compiled for you below 13 easy steps that you can take each day to protect yourself against Identity Theft in 2019.
In 2017, there was an average of 4 data breaches every day according to the Identity Theft Resource Center. Over 1200 companies with who you may have shared some personal information (name, address, phone number, email or even passwords) and that information is probably now, getting exchanged on the Dark Web. Identity Theft is a serious business for a lot of hackers, and you need to start making sure your data is as safe as possible.
Below, 13 easy steps to take that can reduce your risk of Identity Theft:
- Don’t share your personal information if you don’t need to.
If you are getting phone calls, emails, requests in apps and maybe even letters, asking you to share your name, last 4 of your social, phone number, date of birth or any information that they can extract from you. Don’t do it. Make sure you share your personal information with an individual or company that you can trust and will let you know how they are going to use that information. Your bank will never ask you your full social over the phone, also there is no reason to give your mother maiden name to get an extended car warranty!
- Don’t click on every link you may find online!
Scammers are very good at attracting your attention online, with a great offer or nice websites. Before clicking on a link, make sure the link is legit (you can preview the link or check the URL before clicking on it on most devices), and please, never click on a “make $50 an hour from your home by just surfing online”. It will be bad.
- Use a document shredder.
If you get bills in the mail or any other sensitive information, it is wise to use a document shredder (available for $20) to protect yourself again Identity Theft, thieves can still dive in your trash to collect precious information about your life.
- NEVER carry your Social Security Card with you!
It should be a no-brainer, but please, do not carry your Social Security Card with you if you don’t need it. And do not use your SSN as a password ever!
- Keep an eye on your online accounts.
We all get way too many emails, but sometimes, getting notifications can be good. Make sure to set up your online banking accounts (Bank, Credit Cards, Bills, etc…) to get notified of suspicious logins or change of address or other details. You won’t regret it.
- Use Strong Passwords.
Usually, we will use the same password for everything, simply because it’s easy to remember, but be careful, because if there a data breach in one of those websites, your password will be compromised on all those other websites as well.
Your favorite browser will now generate and securely save strong passwords for you (make sure to use a STRONG UNIQUE password for the master login and use the Two-Factor Authentication as well), it will help you protect your accounts for longer.
- Use Two-Factor Authentication.
Two-Factor Authentication is a great feature available on more and more websites. You will get a text message, or a random code will generate every 30 seconds (if you use an app like Authenticator from Google) that you will need to provide along with your password to be able to connect to your account. This second layer of protection is extremely helpful and will protect access to your account even if your password has been compromised.
- Don’t Use Public Wi-Fi to Access Sensitive Data.
Having free Wi-Fi in your favorite coffee shop or finding an open Wi-Fi network named “FREE HIGH-SPEED INTERNET” can be tempting to check your email or checking your bank account, but don’t do it. If you connect to a public Wi-Fi network, just remember one word. Public. Take it like it is, just thinks that everything you are going to do will be connected to this network will be public.
- Check your Credit Report as often as you can!
Checking your credit report is becoming so easy these days, you can install a free app like WalletHub or CreditKarma (daily and weekly report), you will even get a notification in case a change does happen to your credit report. There are 3 major Credit Reporting companies in the USA, Equifax, Transunion, and Experian. Check your report, make sure everything is correct, and keep an eye open.
- Don’t share too much of your personal life online.
Showing your friends your new car or sharing your vacation photos on Instagram or Facebook can be tempting. However, before doing it make sure that your accounts are secured and that it won’t be too easy for a thief to gather enough information to get a better picture of your daily routine or habits. Don’t post a picture of your vehicle tag, or street address or other personal information.
- Don’t accept all friend requests!
Having a large list of friends can be exciting, but do not accept all friend requests. If you don’t know the person, do not accept the request.
- HTTPS. Make sure your surf is secured.
More and more websites are using the HTTPS to encrypt information from your computer to the server. NEVER shop or use your Credit Card if a website is not secured.
- Locking your credit report.
If you are not planning on applying for any new credit, you can lock your credit report. No new “Hard Inquiry” will be permitted (to open an account or loan), and you will be secure. Just don’t forget to unlock it before applying for credit. You can lock your credit usually for free by simply contacting the credit report agencies. (Equifax, Transunion, and Experian).
Now, you are already a bit more protected than before reading this article. If you think you are a victim of Identity Theft, you need to act fast. File a police report, lock your accounts, change your cards and keep an eye open on all the accounts you think can be compromised. You can also file a claim with the Federal Trade Commission on http://www.IdentityTheft.gov and they will guide you on the steps to take.
You can also contact us and see what we can do to help you get back on track with your life.