Despite the best efforts of companies and individuals to protect their data, identity theft is still a major problem. According to GlobeNewswire, in 2021 there were 42 million victims of identity theft in the United States, resulting in losses totaling $52 billion. But there are steps you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of this scourge. Here are 10 ways to prevent identity theft.
How To Prevent Identity Theft: 10 Ways to Protect Your Data
As our lives move increasingly online and we become more reliant on technology, the risk of identity theft grows.
There are many different ways that someone can steal your identity. They may hack into your computer or phone, or they may go through your trash looking for personal information. They may even pose as a legitimate business in order to get your information.
However, there are some simple steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. Here are 10 ways to prevent identity theft:
Delete Personal Records and Statements
When it comes to identity theft, one of the most important things you can do is delete personal records and statements. This will help protect you from thieves who may try to use your information to open new accounts, make purchases, or even commit crimes.
There are a few different ways to go about deleting personal records and statements. You can shred them, burn them, or simply throw them away. Whichever method you choose, just make sure that the records are completely destroyed so that they can't be used by anyone else.
Secure Your Mail
Your mail contains a wealth of personal information that could be used for identity theft. By taking a few simple steps to secure your mail, you can protect yourself from identity theft.
Here are some tips to help you secure your mail:
- Use a locked mailbox: A locked mailbox will prevent thieves from rummaging through your mail. If you don’t have a locking mailbox, consider installing one.
- Deposit outgoing mail in a post office box or at your local post office: This will ensure that your outgoing mail doesn’t fall into the wrong hands.
- Don’t leave mail in your mailbox overnight: If you know you won’t be able to get to the post office before it closes, don’t leave your mail in your mailbox. Bring it inside and deposit it in a secure location until you can get it to the post office.
Safeguard Your Social Security Number
It's important to safeguard your social security number (SSN) to protect against identity theft. Your SSN is a unique identifier that can be used to open new accounts, file taxes, or access your existing financial accounts. If your SSN falls into the wrong hands, it can be used to commit fraud or other crimes.
There are a few simple steps you can take to help protect your SSN:
- Never carry your SSN card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a secure location at home.
- Don't give out your SSN unless you're sure of the person or organization you're dealing with and why they need it. Ask if there's another way to identify you.
- Don't print your SSN on your checks.
Don't Leave a Paper Trail Behind You
When it comes to identity theft, one of the worst things you can do is leave a paper trail behind you. Whether it's receipts, bank statements, or even utility bills, any piece of paper with your personal information on it can be used by criminals to steal your identity.
Always shred any documents that contain your personal information before throwing them away. This includes things like credit card offers, bank statements, and old tax returns.
Always Keep Your Credit Card with You
Credit cards are now essential in our day-to-day lives – we use them for everything from buying our morning coffee to booking a vacation. But as convenient as they are, credit cards also come with a lot of risk. One of the biggest risks is identity theft, which can happen if your credit card falls into the wrong hands.
That’s why it’s so important to always keep your credit card with you. If you don’t, and your credit card is stolen, it opens the door for someone to commit identity theft. That can have a major impact on your life, both financially and emotionally.
Make Sure You Know Who You're Dealing With
Most people are unaware that they can be a victim of identity theft, even if they have never had their personal information stolen. It is important to know who you're dealing with in order to protect yourself from this type of crime.
You can protect yourself from identity theft by being careful about who you give your personal information. Be sure to only give your information to people you know and trust. You should also be careful about what personal information you share on social media sites.
Remove Your Name from Marketers’ Hit Lists
If you’d like to stop getting marketing communications from a particular company, you can usually opt out by calling them or visiting their website. Many companies will also let you opt out of having your information sold to other businesses.
You can also sign up for the national Do Not Call Registry, which will stop telemarketers from calling your phone number. Just remember that this won’t stop all marketing calls, as some companies are exempt from the registry.
With Personal Information, Be More Guarded
It's important to be more guarded than ever when it comes to sharing any kind of personal information - whether that's your social security number, date of birth, home address, or even just your full name.
Once attackers have your personal information, they can use it to open new accounts in your name, make purchases, or even apply for loans. This can ruin your credit score and leave you with thousands of dollars in debt. It can also lead to identity fraud, where thieves use your information to commit crimes.
Keep An Eye on Your Credit Report
As you know, your credit report is a snapshot of your financial history. It includes information about your credit accounts, debts, and payment history. Identity thieves can use your personal information to open new accounts in your name and run up debt. This can damage your credit score and make it difficult for you to get loans, credit cards, and even a job in the future.
That’s why it’s important to keep an eye on your credit report regularly.
Examine Your Credit Card Statements Thoroughly
When it comes to credit card statements, many people just glance at the total amount owed and move on. However, if you want to protect yourself against identity theft, it's important to examine your credit card statements thoroughly.
Identity theft can happen in a number of ways. For example, someone could find your credit card information and use it to make unauthorized purchases. Or, they could open up a new account in your name and run up a large balance that you're responsible for.
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