Identity theft is a huge problem in the U. S, with several million reported cases of the crime occurring annually. The majority of these cases are defined as misuse of an existing account, it counts as a crime whether that misuse is successful or not. This is mainly an issue for debit and credit accounts where criminals will attempt to use your money or credit.
Criminals may also use the gathered information to obtain government benefits or provide false information to law enforcement officials. Millions of people are affected by this crime, but you do not have to be one of them. By taking the right steps, you can avoid having your identity stolen and suffering from all the inconveniences and troubles that follow.
Stronger Passwords, Safer Accounts
The simplest solutions are often the best, and you cannot go simpler than creating stronger passwords and PINs. If your password is simple or easy to guess, then it makes it that much easier for thieves to break the code. You are going to want to have a password that is difficult to crack, so avoid anything average or too simple like names, addresses or any dates. You do not even have to make the password since there are websites online that can do that for free. Just be sure that the password makes use of letter cases and numbers alike. You should also avoid repetition, pick out different passwords for different websites to increase overall security.
Keep Your Passwords Safe
As a direct follow up to the last step, you may need to keep track of your passwords somehow but this can be dangerous. It is important to keep track of your password, but putting them anywhere unsecured or in the open is a direct invitation for anyone to come along and see them. Shortcuts like auto fill or physical cheat sheets are easy to use, but also easy to look at when on an unsecured computer or somewhere easily accessed, respectively. Be sure to shred any sensitive physical documentation you throw out, if left intact it may be another open avenue into your financial accounts.
Every Device Should Have a Password
Without question, you will need to have every device that can have a password locked with a secure one. The more valuable the device, the more important it is that it cannot be opened automatically. If someone were to steal the device, then they should be able to just open it up without a problem. Lock your devices down with a password that’s hard to crack.
Plan Ahead, Protect the Contents of Your Purse or Wallet
One of the best things you can do to protect your identity is to keep the contents of your wallet or purse away from thieves. This mostly involves common sense, such as remembering not to leave your things anywhere where they can be stolen or keeping the bags they are carried in closed and secure. But mistakes do happen and you should plan for when the worst could occur. You should copy all the important documents and cards in your wallet for verification purposes just in case the originals are stolen. If you do not need a card, consider leaving it at home in order to lower any chances of losing track of it.
Protect Your Computer and Stay Away from Sketchy Programs
When you are sent an email, make sure that the sender is a trusted or reputable source to avoid taking on malware and viruses. Websites like better.com, beycome.com, nytimes.com, and cnn.com often send out emails that are helpful and safe to open. On the other hand, you may receive spam or random downloads from senders you may not be sure about. If you do not recognize the name of an email’s sender or are unsure of trusting it, then avoid opening it.
You should make a habit of looking over any sensitive accounts regularly to make sure that there are no issues. This includes bank accounts and any apps or website accounts with access to your bank records. Check for charges that you did not make and contact the authorities or the bank in order to make sure that your identity has not been stolen. The earlier you catch on to identity theft, the more of a chance you have to mitigate any of the resulting damage.
Avoid Posting Any Sensitive Information Out on the Open Web
When you are online, there will be symbols that show just how encrypted a website is and how safe it is to interact with it. If you do not see these symbols, do not post any sensitive information. Avoid posting information like this anyway on social media or other forums where anyone can see. You want your private information to stay private, otherwise, you are inviting identity thieves to take the chance to take control of whatever information they can.