If you have a credit or debit card and you have been using it for online transactions, it is likely that your information is out there in cyberspace and someone is trying to use it for financial gain.
Have you ever thought about what happens when a website or an app asks for your financial details and you dutifully fill in? Well, breach of data privacy is now a grim reality. Many people have fallen victims to scammers who impersonate them.
Armed with your credit card number, social security details and other personal information which anyone with malicious intent can obtain from your social media accounts, scammers can then proceed to recreate your identity and use it to clean out your bank account.
This new reality requires that you take appropriate measures to protect your data and information. Here is how to prevent identity theft.
Lock or freeze your credit
- 1 Lock or freeze your credit
- 2 Secure your social security number
- 3 Using strong passwords as major identity theft facts
- 4 Limit the amount of information you share
- 5 Watch your mail to prevent possible identity theft
- 6 Make regular use of the shredder
- 7 Secure your devices with passwords
- 8 Keep an eye on your financial statements
- 9 Monitor your credit reports
- 10 Conclusion
If you won’t be using your credit card for some time, it would be prudent to lock or freeze it. You will be glad to know that all major reporting bureaus allow freezing or locking of your financial records so that no new updates can take place until you unfreeze or unlock them.
Moreover, you can lock or freeze your records on your mobile device via a free app. You can always unfreeze or unlock your credit whenever you need as it is always free to do so.
Your social security number could be everything an imp needs to steal your identity. It is the key that can unlock all your confidential information, including financial statements.
The thought of this critical information falling into wrong hands should give you goose pimples. Ensure you protect your social security number as best as you can:
- Never carry the card with you
- If anyone or app asks for it, be sure you understand why they need it and how they will keep it safe
It is the most important factor when considering how to prevent identity theft in the online world.
Using strong passwords as major identity theft facts
Most identity theft facts revolve around weak and poor passwords. If your password is the same as your birthdate or your surname in small caps, then a determined hacker will have a field day cracking it.
Your mother’s maiden name, the middle name of your first born won’t be too hard for a fellow whose livelihood depends on it. When creating a password for your various accounts, observe the following:
- Use a combination of both capital and small letters
- Throw a special character such as @ or * into the mix
- Have at least one number
- Use a random combination of letters, numbers and special characters
How much information do you make public on your social media accounts?
Well, you may not give it much thought since you probably want to impress members of your online community. As you feed flesh to your Facebook account, ask yourself if you would give such details to a complete stranger.
Whatever your intentions, keep your birthdate, full name and those of your family members out of reach of strangers.
Watch your mail to prevent possible identity theft
Stolen mail contributes to those scary identity theft facts. If you are out of town, stop delivery of all your emails until you are back.
Alternatively, you may consider using the US Postal Service mailbox which you can lock. You can also prevent perverts from stealing your mail by opting for Informed Delivery, which gives a preview of incoming mail so you can tell if anything is missing. If you have no idea how to prevent identity theft, you could start by securing your mail.
Make regular use of the shredder
Thugs may not hack into your accounts from some remote location but may easily collect pieces of vital information from those credit card or bank statements that you have deposited in the garbage can.
You should never dispose of such sensitive documents in such a manner in the first place. A trip to the shredder would do a perfect job. One would be crazy to try collecting those tiny bits of paper and piece them together to fish out anything.
Do the same to the junk mail in your inbox – shred it into pieces. Some of those stray emails are not what they seem to be – they contain a special code that may record your sensitive information and send it to the hackers.
Secure your devices with passwords
One of the major identity theft facts that you have to deal with involves your smartphones, tablets, and laptops. These devices can present a big risk if you don’t password-protect them.
Use a strong password that consists of a series of random numbers, letters and special characters to make them hard to crack. Also, remember to update the software on your devices and have a fully functional and up to date antivirus program. If you are not using Bluetooth, turn it off as it may provide hackers with an avenue to intrude into your information system. Be careful when downloading free apps as some of them may contain malware.
Keep an eye on your financial statements
Read every word in your credit card and bank statements instead of crumbling and tossing them out the window. You may just recognize a suspicious charge and you will be able to report it immediately so the authorities can take action before everything gets out of hand.
And did you actually receive the care on all those insurance claims? If the records are not yours, someone may be trying something fishy and your identity may be at risk. And if you don’t receive a certain bill, don’t celebrate yet. Investigate why the bill is not forthcoming because what you may consider as a blessing may actually be a curse in disguise.
Monitor your credit reports
All the three major credit reporting bureaus entitle you to one free credit report every year. However, you may need to spend a little and request a report every four months. It will enable you to keep track of your credit information and be able to check for any suspicious details that may point to a possible identity theft. Watch the credit scores as well, and if any large unexplained changes are present, know something is amiss.
Knowing how to prevent identity theft may go a long way in preventing financial disasters. You need to be alert all the time and use strong passwords. Ensure your social security number is secure and limit the amount of personal information you give out on your social media sites. Keep a keen eye on the mail and shred any bank statements before disposing of them.
Do not forget to study some identity theft statistics: https://vpnpro.com/data-protection/identity-theft-statistics/