Identity theft hit an all-time high in 2016. According to Javelin Strategy & Research, an estimated 15.4 million consumers were hit with some kind of identity theft last year, up from 13.1 million the year before. With these numbers on the rise, it is imperative that people learn to protect themselves, and there are a number of simple, straightforward things we can all do to Guard Our ID. Below are 9 easy ways to avoid getting your identity stolen.
#1 Sharing is NOT always caring. Do not reveal personal information over the phone or internet, unless you initiate the contact or verify the source. In fact, avoid giving out your Social Security number altogether; ask if you can use another type of identification.
#2 The path of least resistance. Store financial records, birth certificates, social security cards and other important documents in a secure location. Take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can and ask the post office to put it on hold when you are away from home for several days. To opt out of receiving junk mail altogether, visit www.optoutprescreen.com or call 1-888-567-8688.
#3 No rhyme or reason. Pay attention to your billing cycles. If bills or financial statements are late, contact the sender. Review your account statements and watch for unauthorized transactions.
#4 Kill two birds with one stamp. If a document needs to be discarded, make sure you use a Guard Your ID Stamp to cover any personal information. Shredding is also an option; however shredded paper is difficult to recycle and should be kept to a minimum. Readers can save 25% off of all Guard Your ID products by using the coupon code: GYID73 at www.plus-america.com.
#5 No if, ands or buts. Never pick obvious passwords like “password, ‘123456’ or even your date of birth. The strongest passwords contain letters, numbers and symbols. It is a good idea to use a different password for every account you access online. This way, if your password for one account is compromised, it won’t put your others at risk.
#6 Without a doubt. Before entering payment details online, make sure that there is padlock symbol on your internet browser. The web address should also being with ‘https://’. The “s” stands for ‘secure’. When making a purchase in a store, always shield the keypad when you are typing in your pin.
#7 Speak of the devil. Be wary on social networking sites. Use privacy settings to keep strangers from seeing your personal information, and limit who you let into your network. Do not post any vacation plans or family photos while you are away.
#8 Ahead of the curve. Monitor your credit and cancel any credit cards that you aren’t using. Take advantage of free credit reports several times throughout the year. Periodically request a credit report for your child. If your child is under 18, they typically should not have a credit file; if they do, it may be because someone used their identity to open accounts.
#9 Last but not least. If you believe you are a victim of identity theft, visit Identitytheft.gov to create a personalized recovery plan. The key to protecting your identity is to be attentive, not afraid; and these simple actions can go a long way toward keeping you, and those you love, safe.
Partnered post written by Andi Jose, PLUS Corporation of America.