Identity theft, we wouldn’t wish it on anyone, but as the years go by it has gotten increasingly easier to steal someone else’s identity. Millions of people have their identities stolen each year and these numbers will only continue to increase as technology advances and becomes more accessible. What can be done to stop this problem? Unfortunately, there’s no perfect way to protect your identity from hackers and identity theft, but there are a few things you can do to help prevent it from happening to you.
- Create strong passwords.
When it comes to passwords, always utilize the most important rule: don’t use the same password for all your accounts! Creating passwords can be difficult. Most people will create a password that is easy to remember by using personal information somewhere in their password: names, important dates, pets, phone numbers, etc. Consider incorporating a mixture of upper and lowercase letters, numbers and symbols when creating a secure password. You should have a different password for every account you use in order protect your accounts if one happens to get hacked. Keeping track of multiple passwords can get tricky, but in the long run, it will help protect you from identity theft.
- Don’t overshare on social media.
It’s always been important to censor yourself when it comes to social media. In the battle against identity theft, this has become more important than ever. People freely share personal information on social media that hackers can potentially use to gain access to your accounts on the web. The general rule of thumb for protecting yourself against identity theft is to make sure that you’re not sharing personal information like your birth date or other information that a hacker could use to answer security questions. Additionally, remember to make your social media accounts as private as possible to avoid identity theft in the future.
- Dispose of financial/important documents carefully.
Since we have moved into a digital age, paper documents tend to get overlooked. NEVER throw financial documents or anything with personal information on it into the trash. You never know who will be handling your trash or what they will do with the documents you through away. The best way to properly discard of financial documents (e.g., credit card/loan offers and blank checks) you no longer need is by shredding them. Shredded documents with personal information can be easily disposed of without worry of someone stealing your information.
- Constantly keep an eye on your financial statements and credit score.
Constantly checking your credit card and debit card statements is an easy way to help prevent identity theft. It’s also important to check your credit score to ensure new accounts haven’t been opened in your name. If fraudulent charges occur, immediately contact your financial institution or the credit card company to report it. The longer it takes you to notice fraudulent activity, the more damage a thief could cause to your accounts. Luckily, there are credit monitoring options and sites for those who want to keep an eye on their accounts.
- Be careful with unsecured Wi-Fi.
When using public Wi-Fi, try to abstain from checking online banking or credit card statements. Public Wi-Fi does not offer a reliable or secure connection to the internet. Hackers and identity thieves have the perfect opportunity to use public Wi-Fi to watch what you’re doing on a tablet or laptop. This allows thieves to steal personal information and passwords as you enter them online. Another way to protect yourself is to make sure your home Wi-Fi is secured by a strong password. By doing so you can prevent thieves and hackers stealing your personal information from your home computer or tablet.
As time goes on, hackers and identity thieves will continue to find new ways to steal personal identities. Thankfully there are preventative steps we can each take to protect ourselves, allowing a small victory in the never-ending battle with identity protection.