Five Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
This is a year of rebuilding for my husband and I. We are working towards repairing our credit that we ruined when we were younger. To help protect us while we’re rebuilding I’ve started to take steps to protect us from identity theft. These days it’s so easy for scammers to steal your identity. What’s worst is how hard it is for your to reverse the damage. Here’s five ways to protect yourself from identity theft.
Start by being smart about your credit. If you haven’t already get your free annual credit report from all three major credit bureaus. Check for discrepancies between reports and dispute anything you find wrong. Once you’ve completed this starter step my tips will help you stay alert about protecting your identity.
Change Online Passwords Every Six Months
Most people are lazy when it comes to online passwords. I know this because I’m guilty of it as well. We tend to choose passwords that are easy to remember. We also use the same passwords for multiple accounts. That means if an identity thief gets access to one password, they would potentially have access to multiple accounts with that one password. It’s recommended that you change online passwords often. I think six months is enough time so you don’t feel like you’re changing it constantly. Keep paper records of all passwords and try not to repeat the same passwords over and over again. Set calendar reminders to change the passwords on your accounts.
Be Careful with Email Attachments & Phishing Scams
All email services provide spam folders, helping to keep junk out of our in boxes. Occasionally a few may slip through the cracks and end up in our in boxes. Be very careful with email attachments, even when they are coming from people you know. Some antivirus companies scan attachments to help keep you safe from scammers. Always check email address and website address before entering your personal log-in information and passwords.
Delete Personal Information from Unused Electronic Devices
Last year my son lost a cell phone we had given him to watch YouTube videos. For months the phone was inactive and we forgot about it. Towards the end of the year I started getting emails from apps saying I had signed up when I didn’t. Shortly after I received several invoices from YouTube for video purchases. Upon research I found that the phone my son lost was used by a stranger. They had access to my Gmail account, YouTube, stored payment information, and passwords for over 100 websites stored in my Google account. I immediately took steps to safeguard my account from any further use. Remember to completely erase all personal data from unused cell phones, computers, and tablets. Remove them from your iCloud and Android Device Manager accounts so they are no longer associated with your account. Create separate accounts for your children’s phones, tablets, and computers to keep your information more secure and safe.
Keep Track of Suspicious Activity
Scammers are always looking for ways to take your hard-earned money. Adding skimmers to ATMs and on registers at popular stores and restaurants is just one of the ways they can gain access to your personal financial information. Keep an eye out for suspicious activity on your bank records, even the smallest discrepancy should be reported to your banking institution immediately. Check ATMs carefully at gas stations and stand alone locations for skimming attachments. Don’t be afraid to switch banks if you keeps having account security issues. If your financial information was at risk be sure to place a fraud alert on your credit report immediately.
Shred Your Secure Documents
One of the most important ways your can protect your identity is to shred those secure documents. Instead of just tossing important papers in the mail shred them. When you are pre-approved for credit card offers don’t just toss those offers way. They give scammers insight into what companies are willing to offer you credit. Shred old billing statements, old medical documents, and even pay stubs. All those documents store sensitive information that can be used to secure credit, government assistance and more using your identity.
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- Ability to shred credit cards, paper clips, staples and junk mail for added convenience
- Cross-Cut blades that destroy 12 sheets of paper into approximately 302 particles per sheet for greater security
- SafeSense® Technology which automatically disables the shredder when hands touch the paper opening
- A 5 minute run time before automatic cool down
- The M-12C is available at Target stores nationwide and Target.com with a suggested retail price of $99.99
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What tip do you have for helping people protect themselves from identity theft?