7 ways to protect yourself from ID theft
7 ways to protect yourself from ID theft
ID theft: It’s still a problem
Identity theft is everywhere. Turn on your TV, and you’ll see “special reports” on how to prevent it. Turn on the radio, and hear ads for services pledging to protect you from it. Search for it on Google, and you get 140 million results. In fact, according to a 2013 report by Javelin Research, there is one incident of identity fraud every three seconds.
Fortunately, there are some easy ways to lower your risk of becoming another ID theft victim.
Let’s see how :
1 Don’t over-share on social networking websites
Thanks to social networking sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn, people are now putting unprecedented levels of personal information online.
Be Prudent don’t do it. Instead try setting your privacy settings at the highest level and not sharing facts like your exact birth date, or information that could be used to answer your security questions such as your mother’s maiden name.
2 Maintain anti-virus and anti-malware software
Increasingly, identity thieves are using viruses and harmful programs known as malware to steal Americans’ financial information, says Michael McKeown, supervisory special agent, FBI Cyber Division.
These programs can enter your personal computer in several different ways, the most common being email with links or attachments that when clicked on, install malware on your machine.
Keep anti-virus and anti-malware software up to date, never click on an email from an unknown source, keep your secret informations limited on your computer.
3 Handle important documents with care
We use to keep documents with important information unprotected and/or stored in an unsecured location (our office, a cellar, an external box …).
The key to minimizing the risk is storing needed documents carefully and destroying the ones you don’t need (my personal habit is to tear document in 2 and throw the right part in a trash bin and the left part in another trash bin).
4 Create strong passwords
Most people use the same password for every accounts and/or password too easy to guess (for a hacker) like 1234, including your name, birth date…
To keep from becoming a victim of ID theft, stay away from obvious passwords or sharing the same password between accounts.
If your are lazy (or tired), you can separate your accounts in 2 groups (by risk level) :
Group 1 : Small Risk level Accounts
- you may use simple password if you want
Group 2 : Highly confidential Accounts (bank accounts, taxes, health…)
- you should use highly complex password
- Incorporate spaces, special characters, and lowercase and uppercase letters.
- Whatever your password is, (it) should not be a word that’s found in the dictionary.
5 Be careful with unsecured Wi-Fi
It may be convenient to do online banking at a cafe or to keep your home Wi-Fi network unsecured to avoid typing a password, but criminals have become increasingly adept at intercepting unsecured Wi-Fi communications.
You don’t want to do banking or to look up your highly confidential accounts in a Wi-Fi situation where it’s not secure (cafe, public network …).
Put a password on your Home Wi-Fi network.
6 Don’t be reeled in by phishing scams
Phishing, or the practice of sending out fraudulent emails soliciting financial information or getting users to click on virus-laden links or attachments, is a growing identity theft threat.
! Phishing emails have grown increasingly convincing, thanks to growing information available to thieves about you (from social networking sites and data breaches) to make the emails more persuasive.
Users are seeing emails, referring to them by name and containing their address, friends and family names or their job stolen from social networking sites and data breaches, known as “spear phishing.”
To avoid becoming a victim, read emails carefully before clicking on links or attachments, especially if an email comes from out of the blue or asks for personal or financial information.
7 Monitor credit and bank accounts closely
When your card number is being stolen, Instead of making a big, obvious purchase likely to trigger a fraud alert, thieves will charge small amounts under $20, hoping to remain undetected and keep the card number active as long as possible.
Checking your credit card and debit card statements online on a daily basis is a good way to limit the damage that fraudsters can do to your accounts.
try it ! If you have a smartphone you can get an app that will allow you to check all your accounts the easy way in a single place.
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