4 Effective Ways to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
Over 50 million people have been affected by identity theft this year. That fact has got you understandably concerned about the safety and security of your own personal data. You use your phone and computer to do a number of tasks, and you are concerned that your name, Social Security number, account information and/or birthday may have been stolen.
Fortunately, there are tangible steps that you can take that will help protect you against identity theft.
Make It Hard for Crooks to Learn Your Information
The first thing you should do to secure your personal information is make it really difficult for cybercriminals to access it. As Verizon notes, use a different password for each account you have online and store them either in a password manager or in a safe place that only you can get to. If a company or vendor that you do business with has a breach, change your password immediately and for all accounts, add in two-factor authentication wherever possible. This will require you to use your regular log-in information as well as a code that is emailed or texted to you in order to log in.
Gather Mail Daily and Shred Unwanted Pieces
Make it a point to get your mail every day, as soon as you can after it has been delivered. Or consider investing in a Post Office box so your mail will not be sitting in a mailbox for hours at a time. Also, avoid mailing any bills or checks from the outgoing mailbox; they may be stolen and give thieves easy access to your personal data. Once you go through your mail each day, shred the credit card solicitations and anything else with your name or birthday on it. You can get a basic shredder from Amazon that will destroy credit card statements, bank statements and anything else that contains sensitive and private data.
Invest in Identity Theft Protection
In addition to your own diligence, it is wise to consider investing in an identity theft protection program from a company like Norton LifeLock that will continually monitor your personal information. Visit LifeLockPartner.com to learn why it is important to have these identity protection measures in place and how Norton LifeLock will also provide identity misuse scanning services, as well as offer credit reports and scores, and an identity theft restoration team.
Keep Your Information Close
It is convenient to pay for meals at restaurants with credit cards, but in most cases, this will require your Visa to be taken away for at least a few minutes while it is being processed. While you want to think that your favorite café’s staff is honest, it is still wise to avoid letting your credit card out of your sight at all times and pay with cash instead. Also, lock up your Social Security card in a safe place and carry only the bare minimum of debit and credit cards with you. Leave your health insurance card home unless you are going to the doctor or pharmacy and unless you know you need it, also skip bringing your checkbook with you when you head out.
Being Proactive Is Key
Identity theft does happen to the people around us, but it is not inevitable and it does not have to happen to you. By being proactive and careful with your passwords, mail and credit cards, as well as investing in an identity theft protection plan, you can rest assured you are doing what you can to keep your personal data safe and secure.