Identity theft is one of the worst things that you can face. One day you just wake up to find your bank account drained or an account opened in your name and you are in a world of hurt. It can take weeks, if not months to clear things up, and that is if things go right for you .
Prevent all of these identity theft headaches by protecting your identity. Here are some tips that can help you do just that.
Keep Your Passwords Unique & Safe
This is a big problem for most people and it is mainly due to laziness. If you want to stay safe from identity theft though, you need to be more careful.
Your password for every website should be unique and it should not be something easy to remember. Think “huhu^54^&^*dyg” random characters like this. Something impossible for a hacker to figure out. This is the only way to keep your password safe.
So, go random and use a different password on every site. The reason that you should not use the same password twice is simple. Websites get hacked. If a hacker gets your password from that “puppy dog lovers” forum that is insecure, they can turn around and try it on every bank website. This is done by computer in a blink of an eye. Then, they have access to your bank account.
Monitor Your Credit Report
There is no reason that you should not be subscribed to at least one credit monitoring service. There are several free alternatives and most credit cards also offer you this service for no charge.
A credit monitoring service will allow you to see a change in your credit profile the moment that it happens. This might not stop identity theft, but it would allow you to stop it before it gets bad.
Use Caution With Emails
Emails should always be viewed with skepticism unless you are expecting it from a trusted friend.
Phishing attempts are getting more and more sophisticated. Thief’s will go as far as building entire websites to replicate banks, credit card companies, etc. Identical websites with nearly identical website addresses. If you get a message asking you to log into your account, never follow a link. Find the address yourself and login that way.
Always be careful opening any link in an email. One click and you could have yourself malware or a virus. Personally, I like to only have email on my phone, no computer based email. It is one extra layer of protection.
Check Your Bank Accounts
When a credit card gets stolen, one of the first things that thief’s do is test it. They may authorize it at a gas pump or online store but not use it. Their intent it to prove that the card works. After a few days, the $1 authorization drops and they sell your card information or go on a spending spree.
If you simply check your credit cards and bank accounts daily, you can spot the charge when it hits and freeze your card. It allows you to stop a problem before it occurs.
If that sounds like a pain, it really is not. Put all your accounts in a browser folder and open them with one click. Then, you can check your balances in just a few minutes.
Get A Shredder
If it has your name on it, you should be shredding it. Only a few seconds of work could save you from identity theft.
Even a basic shredder costing around 20 dollars will add a level of protection. For maximum protection though, spend a few dollars more and get a cross cut shredder.
You might not think that someone would go through yourtrash to get your information, but it really happens all of the time. Protect yourself.
Guard Your Credit Card
Your physical credit card should be used with caution. If possible, don’t use it because they are incredibly easy to skim.
At the gas pump, credit card skimmers are easy to install and are very common. A good idea is to use cash for your gas, but if you must use your card, choose pumps in visible locations. Pumps located out of camera view or far from an attendant are easier to plant skimmers on.
When dining out, never let your card leave your sight. This means not letting a server take it, so bring cash.
Protect Your Computer
Your computer is vulnerable to malware, spyware and viruses. This is especially true if you have a PC, but you need to be careful even with a Mac.
Make sure that your virus software is up to date and never install software from untrusted sources. A big warning sign is if a piece of software is free. What is in it for the company offering the software, it might contain a virus. This is especially true for cracked programs that usually cost money.
Assume People Are Imposters
Never take someones word for who they are.
You already know that emails can be fake, but scammers like to call you as well.
If someone calls you claiming to be from a creditor or from your bank, hang up and call them back. Don’t ask for a number but instead, look up the number yourself. It may cost you some extra time, but you will know that the person you are talking to is legit.