The occurrence of identity theft and fraud has been on the rise. Identity theft transpires when an individual illicitly accesses your personal information and exploits it for fraudulent purposes. To safeguard your personal and financial well-being, it is crucial to be proactive in protecting yourself against these threats. In this blog, we’ll outline important strategies and best practices to help guard against identity theft and fraud.
Strong Passwords and Two-Factor Authentication
Establishing a strong defense against identity theft starts by securing your online accounts. Create complex and unique passwords for each of your online accounts. Birthdays and pet names are weak options. A password manager may be very useful.
In addition to strong passwords, activate two-factor authentication (2FA) wherever available. 2FA enhances security by mandating a secondary form of verification, like a code sent to your mobile device, in conjunction with your password. This substantially diminishes the likelihood of unauthorized access to your accounts.
Regularly Monitor Your Financial Accounts
Frequently monitoring your bank, credit card and financial accounts is essential. Check your statements and transactions for any unauthorized or suspicious activity. Many financial institutions offer real-time alerts and notifications for unusual transactions, making it easier to detect and report fraudulent charges promptly.
Shred Sensitive Documents
Identity thieves often target discarded paper documents containing personal information. To prevent this, invest in a cross-cut shredder and use it to dispose of bank statements, credit card offers and any other documents with sensitive data. Furthermore, consider electronic statements and online billing whenever possible to reduce the amount of paper with your personal information.
Secure Your Mail
Identity thieves see your mailbox as a valuable resource. Collect your mail promptly, and if you’re away, ask a trusted neighbor to hold it for you. Consider using a mailbox with a lock for added security. When you no longer need documents containing sensitive information, shred or securely store them instead of tossing them in the trash.
Be Cautious with Personal Information
Be prudent when divulging personal information, whether it’s in person, over the phone or online. Share personal details with only trusted entities and refrain from divulging sensitive information unless absolutely necessary.
Protect Your Social Security Number
Your social security number (SSN) is a prime target for identity thieves. Exercise caution when requested to disclose your SSN and consider seeking alternative means of identification if available. Avoid keeping your SSN card in your wallet or purse but rather in a secure place at home.
Regularly Check Your Credit Reports
Obtain free copies of your credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) at least once a year. Review them for any inaccuracies, accounts you don’t recognize or suspicious activity. Promptly dispute any discrepancies you find.
Educate Yourself and Stay Informed
Regularly read news and updates on scams and fraud schemes. Familiarize yourself with common tactics used by identity thieves so you can recognize and avoid potential threats.
Identity theft and fraud can have devastating consequences, both financially and emotionally. However, by adopting proactive measures and practicing vigilance, people can substantially decrease their susceptibility of falling victim to these crimes. Strong passwords, regular account monitoring and responsible sharing of personal information are just a few steps toward keeping your identity safe. By using these strategies regularly, you can better protect your identity and financial well-being in this digital age.