While identity theft as a whole has been around for quite some time, new advances in technology has made it that much simpler for Cyber Criminals to get your information. It’s for that reason that we need to keep vigilant and protect ourselves and our loved ones from these anonymous criminals by following a few simple steps.
Good Ol’ Fashioned Identity Theft:
Some of you may feel that long gone are the days of Identity Theft as the use of snail mail has diminished. You could not be more wrong. Although the use of the internet has helped in the growth of Identity Theft and Cyber Crime, good old fashioned identity theft is here to stay. Take a minute and give our list “Top 8 Traditional Ways to Keep Safe from Identity Theft” a look and start giving yourself that extra protection you may need.
Top 8 Traditional Ways to Keep Safe from Identity Theft
1. Make sure to destroy Private Records or Statements: This is a no brainer having documents that may contain sensitive material lying around can attract some snoopers. Once these sensitive documents are not needed you may consider shredding them before throwing them out.
2. Secure your mail: Don’t make it easy for these thieves. Make sure to empty out your mailbox in a timely matter or better yet consider locking it up or purchasing a P.O. box address.
3. Protect your Social Security Number: This is one of the main gateways to Identity theft. Make sure to not carry around your social security card or any other Id card that may contain this number. Always keep your Social Security card in a safe and hidden place.
4. Don’t leave a paper trail: I myself have been guilty of this a few times in the past. Make sure to never leave your ATM, credit card or gas station receipts behind.
5. Keep an eye out for that credit card: This may be a difficult one. Take for example the Starbucks employee who stole a drive-thru customer’s credit card info just by saying they needed to run the card on a different computer all the while taking the information to spend at a trendy name-brand store. In just a matter of seconds your credit card info can be swiped so be alert when handing over that card.
6. Excuse me, Do I know you?: Always make sure you know who you are dealing with when dealing with sensitive information. If someone is contacting you about personal information the only thing you should do is obtain their information. If they are working for you bank or any other institution you deal with make sure to call the institution directly to ensure they are one of their employees.
7. Monitor your credit report: Make a habit of reviewing your credit report. There is no reason why you shouldn’t be doing this considering that many companies give out free yearly credit reports and others like iDefend will help you correct any errors on your credit report that you find. Monitoring your credit report will ensure that you will catch any harm in time.
8. Look over your credit card statements: One of the easiest things you can do is to look at your statements when you come in the mail every month, by doing so you can catch any thief in the act.
Stepping Into the 21st Century!
Now that you’re an expert at old school identity theft it’s time to get with the times and protect yourself against cyber crimes. Internet crime schemes can target victims by using various methods. The same way you can protect yourself against traditional Identity theft; you can take measures to protect yourself against online Identity Theft.
1. Up to Date Security Software is your best friend!: I cannot stress this enough, if you are willing to put money into the latest home security system why wouldn’t you for your computer or Smartphone. Nowadays most of us carry our most sensitive personal information in our pockets!
2. Learn to spot scams and spam from a mile away: I’m sure the majority of us knows someone who has fallen victim to phishing scams. Long gone are the days in which phishing scams include a Nigerian Prince and awarding you the mining rights and profits for an advanced fee to the government. Although this type of scam still exists, phishing has become much more sophisticated. The only way to steer clear of falling trap is to never click on a link sent to you. Instead do a search for the company on a search engine to ensure you land on the appropriate website and not someone posing as them.
3. Use a strong password: Your password is your first line of defense so make it count. Make sure to use different passwords for various sites and try to use more than 10 characters that contain all of the following, upper case, lower case, numbers and symbols. Stay clear of any passwords that may contain personal information such as your date of birth. Better yet, use a password generator for a difficult password that doesn’t include easily guessed combinations.
4. Freeze your credit: Thwart a criminal’s effort at opening a new line of credit by freezing it. In order to start a new credit line, thieves would have to provide additional information and pass certain controls set up by you.
5. Reputable Websites are a must: When purchasing online only go to the big boys in the room. If you do not know the history or reputation behind a company you want to purchase from then do you homework. Easiest ways to find out about a website is to look at reviews, ratings on Better Business Bureau and checking to see if they have a secure and encrypted connection for personal and financial information.
So there you have it. If you follow these simple rules you will greatly improve your chances of not getting your identity stolen. For more information on how to protect you and your loved ones you may consider contacting us at The Identity Defenders.