The best way to avoid having to deal with taking your identity back is not getting it stolen in the first place. Over the years, identity theft has become increasingly easier for the average person to become a thief, leaving everyone else struggling to protect themselves.
While we are here to help you take your identity back after a theft occurs and the credit companies won’t do anything, we also want to ensure you are proactive in your approach to keep yourself safe. With the many possible ways to be secure, here are five that we want to highlight.
1. Watch for Phishing or Spoof Emails and Calls
People have been getting very sneaky these days, and fake phone calls and emails can look more real than ever before, but in the end, they are there to get your information. If you get an email from someone you don’t recognize, be cautious about opening it and be extremely careful about any links within the email. Those links tend to be viruses that will grab every piece of information they can and send it back to the hacker. Ultimately, if you don’t recognize something, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
The same goes for phone calls. Many thieves will pretend to be government officials, banks, law firms, or credit card companies in order to get your information and steal your voice. If you get a call from a number you don’t know and it doesn’t seem to be linked with the organization they claim to be from, do not engage with it.
2. Check Your Paper Trail
While technology seems to be the primary source of identity theft, pen and paper is still the tried and true method. That said, ensure you are keeping track of your own paper trail. Do not leave receipts or ATM statements in public places, and keep all your important personal documents safe in your home.
Your mail is often a hub for theft as well. If you think you are missing certain pieces of mail, contact the sender and see if you are right. Mail has some of our most crucial information within it; the last thing you want is a thief handling it.
3. Don’t Take The Easy Route When It Comes to Passwords
It might seem like a no-brainer these days, but passwords are less secure than they used to be. Thankfully, multi-factor authentication methods are becoming the new normal, but even so, keeping your passwords both difficult and different over multiple platforms can keep you safe.
You will want to create passwords that are a good mix of letters, numbers, and capital letters. Simply changing “mynewpassord” to “Myn3Wpa88w0Rd” could make it much more difficult. You will always want to use different passwords for each necessary platform. Using the same password for everything could make it very easy for a thief to access all your information in one swoop.
4. Be a Little Tech Savvy
Much of the identity theft cases being seen are done online. While we all can’t be tech wizards, it can be important to be at least a little tech savvy to ensure your online security. This could mean utilizing virus protection and spyware software on your devices and keeping it up to date.
You will also want to have alerts set up for the businesses you use, such as your banks, social media platforms, and anywhere else where your information is saved, to be in the know if they experience breaches. This way, you can be ahead of the game and change passwords, check your accounts, and put freezes on what is necessary.
5. Regularly Check Your Bank Statements and Credit Reports
Lastly, and most importantly, check your bank statements and credit reports regularly. If you check your bank statements every day or once a week, you can keep track of transactions and know if something does not look right. If you don’t recognize something, you can act quickly, report it to your bank, check your other accounts, and freeze what is necessary.
You can also check your credit reports multiple times a year. Each main credit bureau (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) allows you one free credit report annually. You can utilize these to ensure your report hasn’t changed beyond your knowledge.
These are only five of the ways to keep your identity safe. If you are curious about more or need guidance on taking your identity back, contact the team at Stecklein & Rapp.