4 Identity-Protection Tips

Personal Finance
4 Identity-Protection Tips

Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the world. According to LifeLock, a leading provider of proactive identity theft protection services, 1 in 4 people will experience identity theft in their lifetime. What many people don’t realize about identity theft is that it’s not just your money that is at stake; your credit score, retirement, your future, and the future of your children can be severely impacted by identity theft.

It’s not difficult to fall victim to identity theft. Former financial and personal information practices that we have used over the years simply don’t work well enough to protect us against identity theft in today’s fast-paced world. Many people don’t use proper security practices online. It’s never too late to start protecting yourself against identity theft, even if you’ve already fallen victim to this crime in the past. With a few simple changes to your financial and personal information practices, you can help protect your identity.

Use Monitoring Services

Many credit card companies and banks provide fraud alerts if odd activity appears on your account. This activity typically includes major changes, such as withdrawing hundreds or thousands of dollars when small transactions are normally made.

However, there are several companies, like LifeLock, dedicated to monitoring your accounts for suspicious uses. When suspicious activity is detected, they will send you a notification* through email, text, or a phone call**. Some companies even have special smartphone apps specifically for sending updates.

Shred or Burn

If your house is scattered with documents that have personal information such as account numbers, credit card information, social security numbers, dates of birth, or anything else that can be used for identity theft, shred or burn them. Throwing these items in the trash allows anyone to simply walk up and take them.

Shredding is the more popular option; it’s quick, easy, and requires little cleanup. It should be noted that many shredders leave behind paper slivers that can be taped back together if a thief is determined enough. It’s best to either burn sensitive documents or buy a paper shredder that slices paper into confetti sized bits.

Look for “HTTPS”

When making transactions or doing anything that requires personal information on the Internet, check the URL for “HTTPS.” These letters indicate that the web page has added security measures such as encryption to ensure that the transaction is not being monitored or interfered with by third parties. For added protection, look for a Trust-e symbol, Better Business Bureau seal, and certificate of authorization.

Protect Your Computer

You’d be amazed at how much personal information we send back and forth on the Internet. Not only that, but many people keep logs of their various passwords, codes, credit card numbers, and more on their computers in text documents and convenient spreadsheets. While this may seem fine, you’re really just collecting convenient storage boxes filled with your personal information on your computer. The only hurdle to jump is gaining access to your computer, and with the help of viruses and weak or nonexistent firewalls, anyone can grab your personal information.

To avoid this kind of theft, keep your computer as safe as possible from intruders. Regularly install updates, use reliable anti-virus programs, maintain a good firewall on your computer at all times, and keep your computer running smoothly by regularly removing junk.

*LifeLock does not monitor all transactions at all businesses.

**Phone alerts made during normal local business hours.

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