5 Steps to Avoiding Identity Theft
Identity theft affected 16.7 million people in 2017, resulting in a loss of $16.8 billion. Individuals who have had their identities stolen know it takes countless hours and multiple phone calls to fully remedy the situation. Fortunately, there are some things you can do to help keep your identity safe from potential theft.
- Lighten Your Wallet
Carry only the essentials you regularly use in your wallet, such as your debit card, driver's license, and credit cards. Avoid carrying items that include sensitive information, such as your social security card and documents with your bank account numbers. Never keep written PIN numbers or passwords inside your wallet.
- Password Protect Your Electronics
Make sure you put a password on your electronic devices, such as your tablet, smartphone and computer. Even if the device is stolen, a password will prevent the thief from being able to easily access your information. When you leave stationary devices, such as a desktop computer, always lock your screen, even if you only leave for a few moments.
- Be Careful About Sharing Your Information
Share information only on a need-to-know basis; this includes both personal and financial information. Many people regularly use social media, choosing to share their birth date, location, pets' names, family members' names, and important dates. Unscrupulous individuals can use this public info to crack your passwords and gain access to your accounts. Keep strict privacy settings and don't "friend" people you don't know in real life. Before sharing financial information over the phone, make sure you are talking to the correct entity, and never share information via email or text message.
- Turn on Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of security to sensitive accounts and information that require a password. In addition to your password, you must also input a unique code. The business or financial institution will typically send this one-time code to you via email or text message. You usually only have a short period of time to input the code before it expires. With two-factor authentication, if someone does steal your password, they won't be able to access your information unless they also have access to the device or account that receives your code.
- Check Your Statements
Each month, thoroughly review your bank and credit card statements for charges that you don't recognize. Sometimes, criminals will attempt to make smaller charges to see if an account is valid. Even if the transaction is only for a few dollars, if you don't recognize it, contact your bank or financial institution as soon as possible.
For more tips on how to protect your identity and finances, contact us at 702-228-2228 today.