How to Prevent Identity Theft: The Ultimate Guide

Did you know that more than 45% of people in the United States dealt with financial identity theft in 2020?

Identity theft is happening to many people in different ways, mostly with online scams and access to private information.

If you want to protect your identity, finances, and family, there are certain measures that you will need to take. 

Continue reading to discover how to prevent identity theft by protecting yourself and your family! 

Bring In Your Mail

Learning how to prevent identity theft takes more than focusing on technology.

Some criminals use old-school methods of stealing information, such as going through your mail. When your mail starts piling up in your mailbox, whether you are on vacation or not, they have access to a lot of information.

Criminals can look at medical bills, bank statements, and utility bills to gather information about you. Once they get this information, they can even reroute mail to their address without you ever knowing. If you are planning to go out of time for an extended trip, have someone you trust pick it up or put your mail on hold. 

Review Bank Statements 

Many people wonder what to do if someone steals your identity, especially when it comes to your banking information.

By reviewing your bank statements regulalry, you can watch for suspicious activity.

This will ensure that there are no unknown purchases. If you notice something on your statements that you didn’t purchase, contact your bank immediately. The bank will be able to review the purchases that you didn’t make and put your card on freeze or cancel it. 

The sooner that you address issues on your bank statements, the quicker they can be resolved. Most people recommend using an online portal to monitor your statements and accounts at the current time. 

Shred Private Documents 

Identity theft recovery can be a long process if your private documents are found by criminals.

When you are going through the mail, financial reports, and tax information that you no longer need, make sure a shredder is nearby. Shredding your private documents will ensure that people cannot find your account numbers, SSN, or more. Chances are, no one will take the time to puzzle your documents together because it will take too long.

You should also shred old licenses or IDs and bank cards. Although these are thicker materials, they hold crucial information that could be used to steal your identity. 

Use Different Passwords

Since most identity theft occurrences happen online, you should use different passwords.

If you use the same password to log in to your computer, for your bank records, and more, a criminal can get access to everything. Although it can be difficult to keep track of different passwords, it will help keep you safe. Come up with a way of managing and tracking your passwords so that you don’t get locked out of your programs.

When your identity is stolen, contact to file a lawsuit and get help. Do your best to avoid common phrases and pet names when creating passwords. 

Look at Credit Reports 

Did you know that you can request free credit reports from sites like Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion?

Credit reports should be looked at annually and you don’t have to worry about your score getting lowered by viewing them. It is important to check these reports so that you can identify if a new line of credit opened under your name without your knowledge.

Many people recommend working with your financial institution to get reports on credit changes each month. Waiting too long to check your report could result in a lower number and more difficulty in finding the person trying to steal your identity. 

Install Antivirus Software 

Have you noticed that your computer is running slowly and you are getting more spam mail than normal?

You might want to invest in antivirus software to protect all of the information on your computer. Identity theft criminals have become experts at hacking outdated and unprotected software. When you don’t take antivirus precautions, they can easily get access to your records and manipulate where your money is going. 

Having this type of software can also protect you from spam emails and documents that can damage your computer and lock you out of accounts. 

Don’t Share PINs

PINs (personal identification numbers) are used to access accounts and use credit or debit cards. 

Sharing these numbers can put you at significant risk of identity theft. When you are entering your PIN at an ATM, bank, or store, always protect yourself from other people viewing it. PINs are typically 4 numbers, which is easy to remember for criminals. 

If you fear that someone has gained access to your PIN, contact your bank immediately. They will be able to check records to ensure that no one used your accounts. They can also have you reset the PIN after giving you a temporary one.  

Store Your SSN & Birth Certificate 

You should never upload your SSN or birth certificate to your computer.

These documents should be stored in a safe or safety deposit box, where no one has access to them besides you or your significant other. Your social security number and birth certificate have all of the details that criminals are searching for.

With this information, they can open accounts and get access to your current accounts and records. 

Learn How to Prevent Identity Theft

There are many ways of protecting yourself and learning how to prevent identity theft.

Being mindful of who you share your PINs and passwords with is essential, but you must also change passwords up. Many people recommend antivirus software and storing documents in a secure location. This will help to prevent a stolen identity. 

Don’t forget to bring your mail in regulalry and shred documents with personal details. All of these tips will help keep you safe and avoid issues. 

Be sure to check out our blog for more articles about preventing identity theft and keeping your information secure! 

Author: Grace

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