6 Tips For Identity Theft Protection

2019/02/25

In this age of Internet, where most financial transactions take place electronically, it is very important for everybody to take preventive measures in order to ensure identity theft protection. Even a seemingly very small mistake, such as clicking a link on an unreliable website or misplacement of the copy of an important document, can turn out to be very risky.

Identity thieves are coming up with new tricks and techniques everyday to steal your crucial personal and financial information. Therefore, if you want to protect yourself, you must take a proactive approach. Following are the six tips that you will find very useful in this regard.

Protect Your Social Security Number

Your Social Security number is a very important piece of document. You are advised not to share your SSN with an unknown party unless it is absolutely necessary, such as while you are obtaining a loan or signing up for a utility service. It is very important for you to keep in mind that unscrupulous people and con artists can easily find out other details about you just by using your SSN. They can even apply for loans and credit cards in your name.

The horrible thing is that you may never get to know that you have become a victim of identity theft until you start getting collection calls from unknown creditors. Therefore, when it comes to ensuring identity theft protection, you have to be very careful. For example, there is no need to provide your SSN number while you are applying for a new loan. Reputable lenders may ask for your Social Security number only after your loan application has been approved. When someone asks for your SSN, you must carefully examine whether it is really required.

Be Careful While Providing Your Personal Details Through Emails Or Over Phone

It is a very common practice for identity thieves to send you emails or give phone calls, pretending they are some government organizations, stores, banks or credit card companies. For example, you may receive an email that looks like it is coming from your bank, where you are being asked to click on a link and log in to your internet banking account by entering your customer ID and password. Always remember, banks never make such requests through emails.

If you have received any such email, it only means that some scam artists are trying to steal your bank account details. You are advised to simply avoid all such emails, but if you still have doubts, you can contact your bank and confirm whether they have really sent you any such email. Likewise, banks will never give you a phone call and ask you to provide crucial pieces of information, such as your SSN, customer ID, online banking password and other details.

They may ask for some details to verify your identity only when you give them a call for your account related queries. If you are using online banking, you must always read the guidelines issued by your bank on their website regarding how to ensure identity theft protection.

Shred Documents You No Longer Use

There can be plenty of documents that may contain crucial personal details about you, such as your investment statements, bank statements, credit card offers and others. If you do not need these documents any longer, you should shred it thoroughly. Some people just throw the papers in the dustbin without shredding it, which can expose you to identity theft. Therefore, it would be wise to use a document shredder. If you think that the documents you do not need at present might turn out to be useful in future, you should keep them in a file and lock them safely.

Review Your Credit Card Statements, Bank Statements And Utility Bills Thoroughly

In order to ensure optimum protection from identity theft, you must check your utility bills and bank and credit card statements thoroughly as and when you receive them. If you notice any unauthorized withdrawals or charges, you must take immediate action and report the same to the concerned party, such as your bank, your lender, your credit card issuer or utility service provider.

It is also important to note that identity thieves may also try to hide fraudulent charges by changing your contact details. Therefore, if you are not receiving the bank statements and bills in time, you must immediately inquire about the same. The sooner you take an action, the lesser will be the damage.

Use Caution While Making Financial Transaction Over Internet

Online shoppers are also one of the prime targets for con artists. Therefore, you must keep an array of things in mind regarding identity theft protection while you are shopping on Internet. For example, you are strongly recommended to review a website thoroughly before you make any financial transaction using the same.

First of all, you must go through their privacy policy. Make sure that the website is a legitimate, reputable and a trustworthy one. In order to ensure that the webpage you are using for transaction is completely secure, you must always look for the padlock icon on the browser window and ‘https’ in the URL. It is also important to note that identity thieves have designed many websites that look similar to the official websites of reputable banks, stores and government agencies. These websites look similar in appearance to the real ones. Therefore, you must also make sure that you are visiting a genuine website, not a spam one. One way to ensure this is to double check the URL address.

Protect Your Computer

Protecting the information stored in your PC is also very important to ensure identity theft protection. Hackers are always on a lookout for easy targets, where they can steal crucial pieces of information right from someone’s computer. There are several things you can do to protect your computer. For example, you should never click on links on spam emails or in pop-up windows.

You must also use proper anti-spyware, anti-virus and firewall programs and keep them thoroughly updated. Most importantly, you must use strong passwords, something that should not be guessed easily. Using your date of birth is an example of a weak password. A strong password should include alphabets (in small as well as capital letters), numbers and special characters.

Last, but not the least, while you are working on the above strategies to ensure identity theft protection, you must also review your credit report at least once every six months. If you have additional ideas and suggestions that can help people to protect themselves from becoming victims of identity theft, feel free to share the same in the comments.

Photo Credit: Cyber-security-tips.com

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