Millions of American consumers fall victim to identity theft on an annual basis, yet only a small fraction take measures to protect themselves from it. According to Experian, only 13% of consumers use a paid product to monitor their credit and finances, and 18% use a paid monitoring product. A whopping 81% rely on their banks, credit unions and lenders to monitor activity for them.
If you are part of the majority, it’s only a matter of time before your personal information — which includes your birthdate, social security number, driver’s license number and address — is misappropriate by a thief. From there, the perpetrator has access to your most private and valuable information, which it could use to cause you personal, professional or financial harm. If you want to safeguard your identity, as you should, take the following measures today.
Know the Signs of Identity Theft
First and foremost, it’s important that you know how to identify identity theft. Unfortunately, many people are unaware that they’ve become a victim until their bank accounts are emptied, a police officer shows up at their doors with an arrest warrant or their tax return is rejected. You can avoid being blindsided by knowing what signs to look for:
Safeguard Your Social Security Number
Knowing the signs is important if you suspect that you’ve already fallen victim to identity theft. However, you can take proactive measures to ensure it never gets to that point, the first of which is to safeguard your Social Security number. Never carry your Social Security card with you. Secure or shred any paperwork with your number on it. If someone or some entity asks for your number, ask why it is needed and make sure the recipient plans to safeguard it.
Strengthen Your Passwords
Make sure that every digital device you own is password protected. Most people don’t realize how much personal information their devices contain and often leave them unsecured. When it comes to selecting passwords, try to mix them up. Use a different password for every device, bank account, social media account, email account, etc. Never use obvious information for your passwords, either. “Obvious” includes your kids’ birthdays, your address, your own birthday and your name.
One of the worst things you can do is to click on a link from an unknown sender or that originates in a popup ad. Identity thieves routinely use emails, text messages and websites to steal information regarding individuals’ bank accounts, credit cards, mortgage lenders and finances. If a link looks suspicious in any way, or if you don’t recognize the name of the sender, do not click it. You should also never type your username or password information into an unfamiliar login screen.
What is TLS? TLS stands for Transport Layer Security and is a method by which networks keep internet connections secure. TLS is a cryptographic protocol that provides robust authentication, privacy and data integrity across computer networks. It is used in everything from email to instant messaging to data browsing and is more effective than SSL, or Secure Sockets Layer. TLS was designed to address and overcome SSL vulnerabilities and support stronger and more secure algorithms.
Monitor Your Credit Report and Financial Statements
Finally, stay vigilant. Don’t count on your banking institution or credit union to search for, identify and inform you of discrepancies in your reports. It is ultimately up to you to spot suspicious activity and bring attention to it.
The best way to protect yourself against identity theft is to take control of your information and take proactive measures to safeguard it. Use the above tips to do just that today.
Publish Date: January 23, 2020 7:31 PM
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