These days, identity theft is a huge concern. You should ensure that you are knowledgeable about identity theft online and offline, because preventing identity theft in everyday life takes just a few simple changes. Use this convenient identity theft overview to learn about identity theft and how you can protect you and yours.
About Identity Theft Online
The FTC estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity Theft can occur many different ways. Identity theft can happen through phishing scams, stolen wallets, or hacking into your computer system. Other popular ways identity theft occurs is when criminals go through the garbage or steal your mail, or even more advanced ways like skimming (where your credit card information is collected simply by someone, like your waiter, running your card through a small device). Victims of identity theft may be denied loans for education or housing because of their bad credit reports and can even be arrested for crimes they didn’t commit. Make sure you take the proper safeguards for preventing identity theft.
Prevent Identity Theft on Your Computer
- Install a firewall on your home computer to prevent hackers from accessing personal information from your hard drive
- Install and update virus protection software
- Protect your files that contain sensitive data with passwords. Create unique passwords with combinations of letters, numbers, and symbols in upper and lower case.
- When disposing your computer, make sure that all data is securely wiped using specialist software to get everything off the hard drive
- Never respond to phishing emails
- When shopping online, only give your credit card information to companies with strong security protection
Preventing Identity Theft in Everyday Life
- Shred all private records and statements
- Secure your mail by locking it or getting a P.O. box
- Never carrying your social security card on you (or other cards that have that information on it)
- Never leave ATM, credit card, or gas recipts behind
- Always review your credit card statements carefully, and keep an eye on your credit report.