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Dwight Schrute once said, “Identity theft is not a joke, Jim. Millions of families suffer every year.” The quote was meant to be a joke on The Office, but there’s a lot of truth to those lines. Too many people need stolen identity help and don’t realize that companies exist to assist with identity theft monitoring. We can teach you how to check for identity theft and introduce you to the best identity theft protection companies. Learn how to protect yourself by reading these tips to prevent identity theft.
Share Information Cautiously
One of the best ways to prevent identity theft is to be wary of who you share personal information with. It’s one thing to give your doctor your date of birth, but it’s best to keep that information private when a person you don’t know calls and asks for it. One good rule to follow is to not give out any of your personal information (birthdate, social security number, address, etc.) over the phone.
How to Prevent Identity Theft From Scams
People are hit every day with scams, and it’s up to you to make sure you don’t fall for one. If someone calls and says they’re with a government agency and they need your personal information or a payment right away – it’s a scam. First of all, government agencies will rarely contact you by phone out of the blue. Usually, the first correspondence will be through the mail.
Also, be very wary of anyone saying things like you’ve won something, and they just need your social security number to verify your identity so you can claim the prize. If you fall for it, the “prize” you win will likely be a huge identity theft headache.
There are many other types of scams to look out for including over the phone, email and in person. Be vigilant and do your research. If something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
How to Protect Your Credit Card and Other Financial Accounts
Most credit card and financial accounts have an online system for you to keep an eye on transactions made on your accounts. Check your accounts regularly (at least once per week), and if you see any unfamiliar transactions, you should cancel your cards and contact the financial institution immediately.
Use a VPN
Do not access your financial accounts unless you are connected to a secure WiFi network or are using a Virtual Private Network (VPN). Online identity theft is exceptionally prevalent through the use of public WiFi networks. By using a VPN, you are increasing your identity fraud protection.
Protect Yourself From RFID Skimmers
Did you know that an identity thief could steal your credit/debit card information without even touching it? Criminals can skim your cards’ information just by standing next to you in the checkout line at the store by using RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) scanners. Watch the short video below for how this works.
After a criminal has your card information, they can then use your money for their shopping sprees. To protect yourself from this, you can purchase RFID sleeves or wallets which block electronic pickpocketing (see some examples for how to avoid identity theft through RFID skimming below).
My husband uses RFID sleeves and I own the women’s wallet linked above. We’ve been pleased with both.
Sign Up for the Best Credit Protection
It’s important to check your credit report frequently and look for any unfamiliar accounts open in your name. Signing up for credit fraud protection can help monitor your credit and send you credit fraud alerts that come up.
Leave These Items at Home
There’s no need for you to carry your social security card (or number), passport, birth certificate and any other personal items you don’t use daily. Leave these at home in a secure place, like a fireproof safe, this decreases the risk of them being lost or stolen, so the risk of them being stolen or lost is decreased.
Purchase a Shredder
Learning how to protect yourself from identity theft can be as simple as destroying your documents when you’re finished with them. Use a shredder before throwing away old credit cards, bank statements, medical information and other sensitive documents. Too many thieves rummage through your trash to find their treasure (check out our shredder reviews on our sister site, We Rock Your Web).
Practice Safe Password Usage
This is probably one of the identity theft protection tips that people tend to ignore the most, but it’s honestly the most important. Too many people us password, qwerty, 123456789 and pet names as their passwords. These ARE NOT SECURE. Passwords should be unique for each account (meaning you should never use the same password twice).
All passwords should meet these guidelines:
- at least eight characters
- special characters
The Safe Smart Living team uses a password manager to keep track of all our passwords because it’s unrealistic to memorize multiple passwords, especially if they meet the criteria above.
How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Ultimately, the best way to avoid identity fraud is to sign up for ID theft protection. Read our Identity Theft Protection Reviews to find the best identity theft protection. It’s impossible for you to keep an eye on every account and company that has your personal information. Your information is vulnerable to identity thieves, and the only way to monitor it is to use ID theft protection. If you think your identity has been stolen read this to find out how to fix it and for more identity theft information.
What tips do you have on how to stop identity theft?