Identity theft is one of the most common crimes in the United States. Unfortunately, it is also one of the most challenging crimes to prosecute. If you are a borrower, you must take steps to protect yourself from identity theft. This article will discuss how to prevent identity theft and what to do if you become a victim of this crime.
Understand how identity theft happens.
The first step in preventing identity theft is understanding how it happens. An identity thief can get your personal information in several ways, including stealing your mail, hacking into your computer, or even getting access to your Social Security number. So be vigilant about protecting your personal information and make sure you take the necessary precautions to keep it safe.
Hackers invade databases holding sensitive information, such as in the Equifax credit bureau hack of 2017. Almost everyone has been affected by a data breach. Assume that your data is already out there and take precautions accordingly. Check your credit scores often — unexpected changes can be a clue — and read financial and insurance statements carefully.
Credit card fraud is one of the most common types of identity theft.
If you’re a victim of credit card fraud, it’s essential to act quickly to minimize the damage. First, report the fraud to your credit card issuer and ask them to cancel your card. Then, file a police report and an identity theft report with the Federal Trade Commission. You can help protect your credit and prevent identity theft by taking these steps.
Identity theft can significantly impact your life, so it’s essential to do what you can to prevent it. By being vigilant about protecting your personal information and taking quick action if you think you’ve been a victim, you can help keep your identity safe.
Stay informed about the latest scams and how to protect yourself.
The best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to stay informed about the latest scams and how to protect yourself. There are several resources available, including the FTC’s website, which offers information on how to prevent identity theft, as well as what to do if you become a victim.
Be sure to also check with your financial institution, insurance company, and credit bureau for tips on how to protect yourself. By taking these precautions, you can help reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
Sign up for an identity theft protection service.
The best way to help prevent identity theft is to sign up for identity theft protection services. Although an identity theft protection service can’t prevent identity theft, it can alert you promptly when it happens to limit the damage and help you recover.
Identity theft protection can help safeguard your personal information for a monthly or annual fee. Subscriptions can include monitoring your credit report and score, as well as a comprehensive identity theft insurance policy.
Protect your personal information.
Do not share your personal information with anyone that you do not trust. Shred all documents that have personal information before throwing them away. Use a strong password for your online accounts and change it often. Be aware of what is happening around you. If something looks suspicious, report it to the authorities.
These are just a few tips on preventing identity theft from happening to you. For more tips and information, please visit the Federal Trade Commission website at FTC.gov/IDtheft. Stay safe and protect yourself!
Use strong passwords.
One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to use strong passwords for all of your online accounts. This means using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols and making sure they’re not easily guessed. You should also never use the same password for more than one account.
Monitor your credit report and bank accounts.
One of the best ways to protect against identity theft is to monitor your credit history. Each year, you can get one free credit report from the three national credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Request all three reports at once, or be your no-cost credit-monitoring service. Then, just spread out your requests, ordering from a different bureau every four months.
If you see anything suspicious, report it to your bank and credit card company right away. One of the most effective ways to protect against identity theft is to monitor your credit reports and billing statements so you can spot and report unauthorized activity.
Open your credit card bills and bank statements right away. Check carefully for any unauthorized charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Call if bills don’t arrive on time. It may mean that someone has changed contact information to hide fraudulent charges. If you receive bills and financial statements by mail, be aware of when they normally arrive each month
If it was your credit card information only, monitor those accounts closely for fraudulent charges. If your Social Security number or other sensitive information was stolen, again, consider placing a credit freeze on your files with each of the three major credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion—to prevent a thief opening up accounts in your name and ruining your credit.
Be aware of phishing scams. Phishers will often send emails pretending to be from a legitimate organization like your bank or credit card company. They’ll ask you to click on a link or provide
Be careful with online activities.
Do not click on links in emails. Do not open attachments from people you do not know. These are all ways that your identity can be stolen.
You can use alerts since many financial institutions will text or email when transactions are made on your accounts. Sign up to know when and where your credit cards are used when there are withdrawals or deposits to financial accounts and more.
If you must provide personal information online, ensure the website is secure. Look for “HTTPS” at the beginning of the web address. This means the site is using a security protocol to protect your information.
Never give personal information over the phone unless you initiate the call and trust the person on the other end. Identity thieves often pose as representatives of banks or other companies to get your information.
Stay vigilant against scammers.
The best way to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft is to stay vigilant against scammers. There are many different scams, but they all have one goal: to steal your personal information. The IRS, for example, does not initiate contact with taxpayers by phone (or email or social media) to request personal or financial information, nor does it call with threats of arrest or lawsuits.
Scammers will often pose as representatives from a government agency or a legitimate company to get you to hand over your Social Security number, credit card information, or bank account details. They may also try to trick you into clicking on a malicious link that will install malware on your computer.
If you receive an unsolicited email, call, or text message from someone who claims to be from the IRS or another government agency, do not respond. Likewise, if you are contacted by someone who says they are from your bank or credit card company and asks for personal information, hang up or delete the message.
It’s also essential to keep your computer safe by installing anti-virus software and keeping it up to date. Be careful when you’re online and only visit websites that you trust. Never provide your personal information unless you are sure that the website is legitimate.
Freeze your credit.
When you freeze your credit file, no one can look at or request your credit report. Therefore, no one (including you) can open an account, apply for a loan, or get a new credit card while your credit is frozen. To freeze your credit, you must contact each of the three credit reporting agencies: Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. The credit bureaus provide online, telephone, or mail-in options for freezing your account.
Upon doing so, they will provide you with a PIN or passcode you can later use if you temporarily lift or stop the credit freeze. Credit freezes are free and won’t affect your credit score.
You can also place a fraud alert on your credit file. A fraud alert is different from a credit freeze in that it requires creditors to take additional steps, such as calling you, before they open an account in your name. You can place a fraud alert on your file by contacting one of the three major credit b
Following these steps will help prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft. However, if you find yourself in the unfortunate situation of being a victim, the Federal Trade Commission provides excellent resources on what to do next. In addition, you can report identity theft and get a step-by-step recovery plan at IdentityTheft.gov. Remember, you are not alone, and there is help available. Take action now to protect yourself from identity theft. EdFed offers Banking programs that give more information on how to prevent identity theft.