We live in an increasingly digital world. As the number of online services has exploded, so have the tribes of fraudsters who are engaging in identity theft.
Cyber thieves who access one’s personally identifiable information (PII) such as birthdate, Social Security number, home address, driver’s license number, passport number, and credit card or bank account information can use it to open accounts, buy expensive items, or pay their bills.
How to Avoid Identity Theft:
- Require a PIN or strong password to unlock devices and accounts and 2-step verification. Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts.
- Always use updated security software (i.e. Norton) on your devices.
- Regularly sign in to online accounts to monitor transactions.
- Switch to paperless statements for less sensitive info in your mail.
- Put alerts on your accounts to get reports for suspicious transactions.
- Freeze your credit report so others can’t open accounts in your name.
- Shred old documents, like statements, tax forms, and medical bills.
- File your tax returns early.
- Don’t open emails, click links, or answer calls from suspicious sources.
- Don’t carry your Social Security card or documents with your SSN on them.
- Don’t share your SSN by phone unless you are 100% sure who they are and why they are asking.
- Do not use public Wi-Fi for online banking, shopping, or to check your email or social media.
- Don’t leave personal info in your car, even if it is locked.
- Invest in identity theft protection (like LifeLock) to monitor, detect, and alert you to potential ID theft activity.
If you are a victim of identity theft, contact at least one of the three credit bureaus, and report it to the FTC at www.identitytheft.gov or call 877 438 4338.