Every year roughly 17 million people fall victim to identity theft of some kind. Identity theft is when someone gets access to your Social Security number, bank or credit card account number, or other identifying information and uses it to steal from you. Reduce your risks by safeguarding your information with these simple steps.
1. Never ever give your Social Security number, credit card number, checking or savings account numbers to anyone unless you initiate the contact.
2. Get off mailing lists: Put a stop to pre-approved credit-card offers, which is a gold mine for ID thieves. This can be done by visiting optoutprescreen.com or by calling 888-567-8688. You can stop other junk mail at dmachoice.org, and reduce telemarketing calls at donotcall.gov.
3. Use stronger passwords. Securing your personal data on your smartphone or tablet means not using a password that’s easy to hack, avoid using your name and birthdate.
4. Never click on links in emails from strangers, or those that claim to be from the Social Security Administration, IRS or other government agencies, or from your bank, phone or credit card company warning of a “problem.” These are signs of identity-stealing malware being installed on your computer.
5. Use the safest credit cards- If you don’t already have one, get an EMV chip credit card from your credit card provider
6. Shred unneeded documents with crosscut paper shredder like health records, receipts, statements, pre-approved credit offers or other papers that may have your financial or personal information on them.
7. Review your monthly bank and credit card statements to see if your bank or credit card issuer offers free alerts that will warn you of any suspicious activity.
With technology expanding, data breaches are par for the course. Safeguarding your personal information with the steps above will provide you with a few additional walls of safety around your information and your money.