Protecting your identity is relatively easy, but if your identity is hacked, it is a nightmare. Protecting your identity can be prevented, but it involves practicing caution online, and with your pin. Hackers can take your identity and erase files from your computers. There are ways to guard yourself against becoming a victim of identity theft.
What is Identity Theft?
When someone uses someone else’s identity deliberately, it is defined as identity theft. Usually, identity theft is committed to financial gains, such as obtaining credit cards, getting personal loans, or impersonation. Typically, a person whose identity has been stolen will suffer from financial or personal losses. The term identity theft was coined in 1964. Since its inception, the definition has evolved encompassing personal information, such as date of birth, name of the individuals, driver’s license, social security number, bank account, and credit cards. However, fingerprints, e-signatures, and pins have been added to the definition of identity theft.
Scammers or hackers will take advantage of any possible opportunity they can to steal. Without knowing it, your information could be exposed due to frequent data breaches. It is easy for hackers to get your data if they want it, so it is essential to be smart and take steps to prevent anyone from being able to use your personal information and distract your financial standards. Below are five ways to avoid identity theft:
1. Lock Unused Credit Cards
The majority of credit cards have features that allow you to lock them when they are not in use. Log into your old credit card accounts to check that your balance says zero dollar balance and then lock the cards. When you lock your credit cards, the only way to unlock it is to log back into the account. Instead of closing the credit account, locking it can be a better solution since closing accounts can lower your credit score.
2. Set Alerts on Credit Cards
You cans set alerts on your credit card and have them sent to your email or text. Alerts can include:
- Balance reaching a certain amount
- Purchases made online
- Significant purchase alerts (over $500 or so)
- Purchases made without a present credit card
Most credit card alerts are flexible and can help you keep track of your spending, as well as warning you to suspicious activity with your cards.
3. Use a System for Money Management
There are money management systems out there that can help with managing your money. These money management systems allow you to link bank accounts, investments, loans, and credit cards to the same place. The money management systems give you an overview of your money each month, and let you see a budget. The system also notifies you if there is any unusual spending happening. Money management systems offer credit monitoring services, which let you check your credit score monthly. A sign of identity theft could be a couple of points drops in a credit score.
4. Use Google Passwords or Password Changing Service
Using the same old passwords for all of your accounts is an easy way to find yourself hacked. You can use a password changing service that will help you monitor and protect your accounts when you log into your computer and phone. You can also use google suggested passwords since they have secure passwords. You change them every couple of months, and it keeps passwords protected. To add even more strength to your passwords, set up a two-method entering or two-step password protection.
5. Check Your Annual Credit Report
It is essential to watch your credit score and keep an eye on all of your accounts. Pulling a full annual credit report can be a lot of work, but it is essential to see all the accounts that are opened in your name. There is always a chance, even with protection, that someone has opened an account with your name somewhere else. If anything weird comes up on your credit reports, you can dispute fraudulent charges, unauthorized accounts, and false addresses on your credit report.
How to Fix Identity
When identity theft happens, the steps to reclaim your personal information can be hard, and be an ordeal. When are a victim of identity theft, these are the following services that need to be notified:
- All 3 Creditors
- Social Security Administration
- U.S. Mail
Following telling the proper people, you need to:
- Change all passwords
- Keep records of everything
- Request to have a designated identity theft solutions which are with the creditor where you are defrauded
- A signed affidavit of fraud is needed in case of any problems with credit card companies
- After you’ve notified credit bureaus and report the scam, they can monitor your accounts for one year or seven depending on how much you want to pay
- Call often for updates on the status of your investigation
Avoid Identity Theft
The Federal Trades Commission reports that millions of Americans suffer from stolen identities every year, and the numbers are only increasing. You can only do so much to protect your identity, but following the steps above are an excellent way to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft. Again use strong passwords, protect your computer, encrypt your computer’s hard drive, and learn how to spot phishing scams.
You could still end up a victim of identity theft, no matter how careful you are. Using your credit card at a store could potentially cause a data breach. However, having your data compromised does not necessarily mean that your identity will be stolen, but it’s a reason to practices more protection. Keeping up to date, and an eye on your finances, emails, accounts, credit cards, etc. can help you detect a problem if it should come up. Detecting problems early can help you fix it.
Following the tips above can help you limit your exposure to identity theft significantly. Continuously monitoring your information can be time-consuming, so to help you stay up to date on your credit and other personal information, consider using an identity theft monitoring service. These monitoring services provide identity theft and credit monitoring for you, alerting you to any trouble or suspicious credit behavior.