Your identity is constantly at risk,… and it’s your job to protect it! These days, almost everything you do puts you at risk. From shopping in stores or online, to seeking medical attention, applying for loans, or using an ATM machine, almost everything you do relies on your identity. Unfortunately, this also puts your identity at risk of being stolen and used without permission. Being conscious of how to protect your identity is more critical than ever. Here are some important ways of protecting yourself from identity theft.
Freeze Your Credit
Freezing your credit prevents your social security number and credit score from being used to apply for credit cards, loans, mortgages, and other similar types of credit. Read our article on 5 reasons to freeze your credit profile for some helpful information on using this to protect your identity. Although a credit freeze does not prevent all types of identity theft, it covers accumulation of unauthorized debts under your name.
Always Ask Before You Give
You may come across many instances where your date of birth and/or social security number are requested on a form. You probably assume that it’s required information, but this is not always the case. Many times, if you ask why they need the information, you will learn that it’s optional and you can choose not to provide it. So, before you enter such critical information on any form, it does not hurt to ask why. This is a great way of protecting yourself from identity theft should that company’s files become subject to theft or hacking.
Don’t Trust Callers
Phones are a tricky thing as you never really know if people are who they claim to be. Caller ID is not reliable since people can mask their phone numbers. Someone could be calling to trick you into providing your personal information.
Imagine this… hackers manage to somehow get your name, address, and social security number, but they are missing your birth date and maiden name. If they call up pretending to be your bank or credit card company, can they trick you into giving them those 2 pieces of information by claiming they need it to verify your identity?
It’s best to be overly cautious and not give out your information to callers unless you were actually expecting their call. Another option is to hang up and call them back using a number that you already have for that company. Learn more about protecting yourself from phone scams.
Other Ways of Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
There are many additional ways of protecting yourself from identity theft:
- Use complex password for accounts.
- Don’t keep your password saved in visible locations (i.e. sticky note on computer screen).
- Add a passcode to your laptop and phone.
- Don’t send personal information or passwords via text or email (both are insecure).
- Don’t login to bank accounts while on public wifi.
By being overly cautious about your identity and remembering these helpful tips, you will reduce the chances of getting your identity stolen.