Identity theft (aka identity fraud) has become the greatest concern for million Americans and big businessman’s. According to 2016 Javelin Research, 15.4 million Americans were identified as the victims of online identity theft––it’s a deliberate use of someone‘s identity to gain a financial advantage or any other benefit in that person’s name. To commit this criminal act, an imposter obtains personal information like driver’s license or Social Security number to impersonate a person. For example,
- Tax-related identity theft: A thief files a false tax return with the IRS using someone else’s social security number.
- Child identity theft: Children’s information is misused to open bank accounts, apply for government benefits, and other services.
- Medical identity theft: It is done to receive medical services.
- Mail-Identity Theft: It is an old school practice but most dangerous method where criminals steal emails to make purchases, retrieve financial account details or open up new credit cards.
How to protect identity online?
1. Get Serious
- Never disclose a social security and credit card number, or other personal information to strangers who call or send e-mails. Also, don’t write this sensitive information on a random piece of paper or forms (except those sent to the IRS).
- Avoid carrying bank cards everywhere, unless important. Also, a big ‘NO’ to written PINs or passwords.
- Store financial account statements and other important records in a secure place at home.
- Don’t post DOB, mother’s maiden name, or other personal information on social websites. These details are often used to verify a person identity online.
- Sign up for bank alerts that warn about suspicious account activity.
2. Secure devices
Have ever heard about a firewall, anti-virus software’s, or an anti-spyware, etc.? Make sure all devices are protected by antivirus software’s and strong passwords so that no one could access it without permission.
A password must have upper- and lower-case letters, symbols like #, &, and $, and numerals. Use a complex set of all.
- Don’t use personal information such as DOB, kids name, etc.
- Change passwords frequently.
- Don’t use the same password on multiple accounts.
3. Place security freezes
Protect the credit report by placing a security freeze at all three major credit bureaus: Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax. This will prevent a third person from looking at someone’s reports except for financial institutions and other government agencies a person is in relationship with.
4. Think before using free Wi-Fi
Free public Wi-Fi is convenient, but one needs to be vigilant in terms of security because it doesn’t offer much. Never login to the banking app while using public Wi-Fi. Also, avoid shopping online while you’re connected.
5. Close unused accounts
We all have multiple online accounts opened over time but not in use. To be on the safe side, a person should close all accounts immediately once he or she stops using it as hackers may have access to user’s personal information associated with that account. Moreover, it is advisable to secure less information online.
Did you know?
People who are below 21 have started looking for Fake id to enjoy at club or bars (age-restrictive places) to get drunk with friends. This sounds scary! What if your look-alike steals your personal information to have fun? Do not risk your future!
No one could dare to hack your personal information if you keep it safe by following the above essential tips.
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