Prevent Identity Theft


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Today, there are higher risks of being victimized of identity theft than ever before. This is due to the easy access that many culprits have due to technology. Various mechanisms exist in which a criminal can get a personís personal information and credit card information through computers and other devices.

Additionally, the impact of identity theft is greater in the digital age because a substantial amount of damage may be committed in no time at all. This can easily cause havoc on a personís credit. Unfortunately, it can sometimes be months before a person realizes that his or her identity has been stolen. In some cases, the damage may not be able to be repaired. This may result in an incredible loss of funds and a potential impact on a personís retirement funds.

Despite the relative ease of identity theft being committed, there are a number of ways that a person can help prevent identity theft. While there may not be a guaranteed way to absolutely prevent identity theft, some ways to minimize the risk of being an identity theft victim include:

Donít Open Unknown Emails

Do not open emails that come from someone you do not know. Even if the email says that it is from a contact, realize that sometimes criminals hack into other email accounts in order to fish for new victims. If the subject line contains something out of the ordinary, verify that it is a legitimate email before opening it. Sometimes opening just an email can provide the person with all of the information necessary to access the computer and any personal information stored in it.

Shred Documents

If documents contain personal information such as a social security number, date of birth or other private information, shred these documents. Likewise, shred documents that include credit card offers since someone can use your information and then reroute the mail to them at a different address. Sometimes one parcel of trash is enough information for a thief to piece together to cause serious harm to your identity and credit history. Do not throw away anything with personal information on it because once you throw it away, there is no way of knowing what will happen to it.

Protect Everything with Passwords

Include a password for all important information. Keep a password on your phone to prevent a thief from accessing the information stored inside, such as saved credit cards or financial institution information. Online sites often require passwords. Special apps exist to safely secure such passwords. Cell phones and other devices allow a fingerprint scan for a password.

Passwords should be highly secure. Many websites indicate how strong a password is when typing it in. A combination of capitalized and uncapitalized letters, numbers and symbols that are 12 characters or longer are often stronger passwords.

Avoid using anything that someone could easily predict, such as using a date of birth, anniversary date or childís name. Change out passwords on a regular basis and do not write them down. Keep the password and the item using the password separate, such as not writing the pin number of a bank card on the card.

Do Not Provide Information Over the Telephone

Although it is regular practice to conduct business over the phone, it can be risky to provide private information over the phone. Avoid giving this information to someone who has called you. You may even want to avoid giving out personal information on the phone even if you initiated the call. You may be able to set up a different way to identify yourself, such as having a special code word or number so that you do not have to verify confidential information such as your social security number. If a business has a legitimate need for personal information, an agent should be able to request the information in writing.

Check Your Credit Report

Regularly review your credit report for any errors or suspicious activity. You are entitled to one free credit report each year from each of the three major credit bureaus. You can access your report by going online to annualcreditreport.com, which is endorsed by the United States government. You can also contact the credit bureau directly. By checking a report every four months, you can access each report once within the year without having to pay for this privilege. Additional times trigger the right to a free credit report, such as if your report was accessed or you were denied credit due to information on your credit report. Check for any inaccurate and suspicious activity, such as credit accounts you do not recognize or another address that a criminal may be using to attempt to reroute information in order to attempt identity theft.

Consider Credit Monitoring

Another way to potentially prevent identity theft is to use credit monitoring. This service involves a company monitoring your credit report and notifying you if there is any unusual activity.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer.

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