How to protect yourself and your money from identity theft has been a hot topic for some time. But what is the identity theft definition? It is using someone else’s personal information without their consent, usually for financial gain.
According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the last available data from 2016, an estimated 10% of persons age 16 and older reported that they had been victims of identity theft in the previous 12 months.
Data breaches and identity thefts are on the rise and it’s now more important than ever to know how to protect yourself and your money from them. We’ve come up with a list of measures you can take to prevent identity theft.
Freeze or lock your credit
A credit freeze keeps the sensitive data in your credit files from being accessed without your specific consent. You can also lock your credit, which is easier, but you may have less legal protection than with a freeze.
Protect your Social Security number
A Social Security number is the key to your personal information. If someone asks you for your Social Security number, you have every right to ask why they need it and the ways it would be protected. It is also important not to carry your card with you and to store or shred paperwork that contains your Social Security number. Protect it as best as you can!
Use strong passwords
First, don’t use easy to guess passwords and don’t rely on security questions because some of the answers to those questions are very easy to find out.
The best passwords are the lengthy ones that have a combination of letters, numbers, and special characters. Also, it’s not safe to use the same passwords for multiple accounts.
Limit what you share online
Think about what pieces of information you share online! Can everyone see your birthdate on Facebook, family members’ names, or your full name? Do you give all the information to a caller who asks the right questions? Make sure you check everything before responding to questions that might reveal your details. Don’t share too much information about yourself and your family members online.
Use a shredder
Any kind of documentation that you don’t need long term that contains personal information shouldn’t be in a trash bin. You should use a shredder and shred any credit card or bank statements and pre-approved offers of credit as well.
Protect your data on mobile devices
Mobile devices may be a huge risk. Take good care of your mobile devices and have the software updated always. If possible, use a two-factor identification and hard to guess passwords.
Also, keep in mind that when you use a public network, others may be able to see your data.
Monitor and check your financial and medical statements
Read every credit card and bank statement. You should recognize every charge, no matter how small it is. If anything happens, that is out of the ordinary, you should call and investigate.
When it comes to health care records, you should store them in a safe place and shred any documentation that you no longer need.
Be extra vigilant
It is always possible to become the victim of identity theft, so you should always be extra vigilant. Having your personal data compromised does not mean that your identity will be stolen, but it is a reason to stay alert at all times. It’s a fact that the sooner you find out about the problem, the sooner you’ll be able to fix it.
After you’ve read the aforementioned measures, you will know what to do and how to protect yourself and your money from identity theft.
Are you a small or medium-sized business? If so, check out our Corporate Account Takeover Guide for tips to avoid corporate identity theft and practice business account safety. Our customer’s security is always our number one concern here at Prudential Bank. For any additional information, give us a call!
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