Identity theft is an unfortunate reality for most of us in the world today. According to a report released in September, 2015 by the Bureau of Justice Statistics:
- 6 million Americans suffered identity theft in the year 2014.
- 2/3rd of the victims of such fraud suffered a direct financial loss as well.
- 7% of the victims incurred multiple types of identity theft.
One more fact that is important in the above study is that 85% of US residents also took concrete steps to prevent identity theft. It is true that identity theft can happen in multiple ways so it is useful to look at 3 ways in which you can protect yourself against such a mishap.
Monitor Your Vitals:
In the context of identity theft, this term points to your:
- Credit score.
- Bank and credit card statements.
- Passwords and accounts of various kinds and so on.
For instance, LifeLock identity theft protection services can give you the huge advantage of instant alerts via text messages of emails. You can then go one step further and fix the problem as well.
Most financial institutions offer robust account verification procedures such as two-step verification or generating one-time passwords that get sent to your mobile and so on. It is a very good idea to use all these security measures. File information regularly so you have a paper trail when it comes to looking at your account activity.
The Physical Side Of Things:
Be aware of and careful about how you handle your personal documents, your passwords and so on. It is useful to keep your credentials safe from prying eyes if you are withdrawing money from an ATM or even conducting transactions at your bank.
There is an interesting term for people who want to look at the information you are dealing in – ‘shoulder surfers’. Be watchful of this category of people and physically shield your information from them.
If you handle a lot of money or confidential information of various kinds, invest in a paper shredder and destroy your documents periodically and thoroughly. Investing in high-quality software security measures is also necessary if you use the internet to carry out your financial transactions.
Be Socially Wise:
There is a juicy array of social networking sites and platforms out there and they are fabulously useful when it comes to sharing information and keeping in touch with everybody.
But you should be extremely wise when it comes to sharing information on open social networks. Social engineering is an ‘art form’ used by hackers to ferret information from you. Phishing and fraudulent calls are just some of the ways in which this information can be extracted and then misused.
It is wise not to:
- Share personal information such as birthdays and mobile phone on social media sites.
- Take different kinds of surveys.
- Choose ‘visible to the public’ when it comes to your profile.
Do not divulge your social security number or your birthday to people – even if they say they represent your bank or loan agency or even a government agency taking a survey.