Did you know that more than six million Americans fall victim to identity theft each year?
With today’s digital revolution, it’s easier than ever for hackers to steal things like your credit card data and bank details. This tendencies multiples if you also make identity theft prevention mistakes. You expose yourself even more and you might not even know what you did wrong.
There’s no need to panic, however. We’ve got your back; check out this list of common mistakes and learn how to formulate a solid identity theft prevention strategy:
1) Exposing Your Social Security Number
A common mistake that leads to online identity theft is exposing your social security number. This can happen a lot easier than one might expect. Some people write down their whole social security number thinking they’re on a secure, legal web page when in fact it’s an elaborate scam.
Have you ever received a scam call? It’s when a supposed call center agent calls your home number and threatens you with tax evasion or late credit card payments. They’ll make you purchase gift cards on Amazon or list down your social security number and then use the information to rob you.
Don’t carry your whole SSN with you, either. Don’t keep it written down in your wallet, don’t save it on your phone, and don’t write it on checks. Avoid letting establishments like your school using it as an ID reference number.
2) Careless With Mail
Yes, even in the digital age, you have to practice caution with your physical snail mail. Don’t keep your mailbox exposed to the public. There’s always a chance of someone opening your mailbox and stealing what’s inside.
Keep in mind, you might still get mail from your bank, the IRS, or a credit report company. Your credit card or social security details might be in a letter from a business you regularly shop with.
Start protecting personal data by locking your mailbox. Better yet, don’t use one and direct mailmen to slide letters through a mail slot on your door.
3) Not Reading Credit Report
Before you pay your monthly credit fees, make sure you double-check the charges! Read your credit card information and make it a habit to hunt down anomalies.
The first thing you need to look for are purchases you didn’t make. You should then look for charges on your card that don’t make sense, like $1 fees that don’t refer to any subscription or product. Look for purchases made in places you know you didn’t go to or ATMs you didn’t withdraw from.
Get a credit report at least twice a year. This will not only update you on your FICO score but it’ll also reveal how well you’ve been doing with your expenses. It’ll also help find anomalies so you can catch thieves right away.
4) Using Public Computers
Even if you carry your phone or laptop with you while traveling, there may always be an instance where you’ll need to use a public computer. You might need to go to a LAN cafe to print plane tickets or a receipt, for example.
When using public computers, or even simply connecting to public WiFi, secure your network and information first. Use a VPN, look for an SSL certification on the web page, and read reviews about the website before inputting information. Look around and make sure no one is lurking behind you.
5) Not Changing Passwords
Avoid using the most common passwords. This list includes qwerty, password, 123456789, or relying on your birthday details. Those are too common and easy to hack.
Do you rely on your birthday details, pet’s name, or anniversary for your passwords? Hackers can discover those details simply by checking out your social media accounts and the things you post and celebrate.
Change your passwords often. Use a password generator or ASCII codes if you want to stay even more secure. If you have too many passwords to manage, use a tool like a password manager.
6) Not Using 2FA
Monitoring your passwords isn’t the whole picture. You also need to practice using two-factor authorization. Ignoring this is another common mistake because it lets hackers break into your accounts as soon as they discover your passwords.
2FA requires you to verify logins. You can use this via SMS codes, biometrics, or randomly generated numbers. Even if a hacker manages to breach your password details, they won’t be able to log in unless you verify the attempt.
Not Seeking Legal Help
Don’t try to deal with identity theft on your own. As soon as you see an anomaly, seek the aid of a good identity theft lawyer. Talk to experts, such as the folks at Consumerprotection.net, to guide you through the process of filing a complaint and catching the thief.
It’s always safer to have legal assistance in case someone does steal your identity and uses your information. Bank officials pay more attention when there’s a legal counsel on the other end, after all.
Ignoring Antivirus Tools and Alerts
Don’t uninstall your antivirus and anti-malware applications. Yes, they can slow down your PC or phone when running a scan but these are your last lines of defense against cyber attacks.
When your antivirus warns you of a potential threat, don’t immediately dismiss it! Check what it is and verify if it’s an application you can grant permission to or if it’s legitimately something you should feel concerned about.
Avoid These Identity Theft Prevention Mistakes
Now you know the most common identity theft prevention mistakes and how to face them. Manage your passwords, secure your mail, and don’t surrender information without verification. Make sure to seek legal help whenever you do run into a problem.
Of course, there are other great tips to discover.
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