Did you know there were 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018? According to Javelin Strategy, each case cost the victim an average of $1,050, and that’s only the dollar cost. When a thief steals an individual’s, the thief also impacts the victim’s financial health, recovery from which can take years.
Luckily, there are steps you can take to prevent becoming the next victim. Here’s your complete guide to identity theft protection.
1. Monitor your credit
Check your credit score for free on sites like CreditKarma.com and get a free annual report from each of the credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditReport.com. Look for sudden hits to your rating and suspicious activity on your report and credit card bills.
2. Use multi-factor authentication
When banking online or using any other service utilizing sensitive information, always choose multi-factor authentication for extra protection.
3. Use strong, unique passwords
Never use identical passwords across multiple accounts. Instead, create strong, unique passwords for every login you use.
4. Only use Wi-Fi with a VPN
When using public Wi-Fi, always choose a Virtual Private Network (VPN) instead of your default Wi-Fi settings to keep the device’s sensitive information secure. Many mobile devices have VPN service already on the device. Just go into your settings and turn it on. I-phones already have it activated if you set a password.
5. Block robocalls
Lower the number of robocalls — and the potential scams — that reach your home by adding your phone number to the Federal Trade Commission’s No Call List at donotcall.gov.
6. Upgrade your devices
By upgrading the operating systems for your computer, tablet, and phone, you’ll be protected from the most recent security breaches, viruses, and hacks.
7. Shred old documents
Some criminals search through trashed papers to get information. That’s why it’s best to shred all documents containing sensitive information as soon as you don’t need them. Box Elder Credit union offers free shredding throughout the year. Check online to see the next date for Shred Fest.
8. Keep personal information personal
Be super-cautious about sharing sensitive data with strangers — and even with friends. It’s also a good idea to use the highest privacy and security settings on your social media accounts.
9. Invest in identity theft protection
Services like LifeLock will monitor your personal information online and immediately alert you about any suspicious activity. If you were one of the millions affected by the Equifax breach, you can get free credit monitoring by filing a claim with the FTC. FTC.gov/Equifax
Be proactive about protecting your identity and keep your information and your money safe.