Be Proactive With Identity Theft Avoidance
Identity theft can wreak havoc on your financial security and credit. When stolen, our personal information can be used in a variety of ways, such as opening new accounts, obtaining credit cards and even committing crimes. By taking a proactive approach to avoiding identity theft, we can better protect ourselves and our information.
1. Secure Your Personal Information
You should always be careful to secure your personal information. This includes keeping documents, such as Social Security cards, bank statements, and birth certificates, in a safe and secure place. You should also avoid giving out personal information to parties that you don’t trust, such as over the phone or on the Internet. Never click on links, open documents or download files from suspicious sources.
2. Use Strong Passwords and PINs
Having secure passwords and PINs can help protect you from identity theft. Make sure that all accounts, such as bank accounts, credit cards, and online accounts, are protected with strong passwords and PINs that are hard to guess. Avoid using obvious information, such as your date of birth or the last four digits of your Social Security number, as passwords and PINs.
3. Monitor Your Credit Report
You should regularly monitor your credit report for any suspicious activity. You are entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies. Keep an eye out for any unfamiliar accounts on your report, or any accounts that have been opened in your name without your knowledge.
4. Protect Your Computer
Your computer is susceptible to malware and viruses, which can compromise your personal information and even take over your computer. Make sure to practice safe Internet habits, such as using a reliable antivirus program and not opening attachments from unfamiliar emails or downloading software from untrustworthy sources.
5. Be Wary of Phishing
Phishing is a tactic used by scammers to obtain personal information. You may receive emails or texts from unknown sources that appear to be from a legitimate company, such as your bank. These messages may ask for information, such as usernames, passwords, or credit card numbers. If you receive a message like this, do not respond, and contact the company directly to verify its authenticity.
By following these steps, you can take a proactive approach to identity theft avoidance. Be sure to keep your personal information secure, use strong passwords and PINs, monitor your credit report, protect your computer, and be wary of phishing attempts.