Security and Safety Advice for Protecting Your Identity
Identity theft is a crime that involves a thief obtaining someone else's personal information, such as their Social Security number or bank account numbers, and using this information fraudulently for personal or economic gain. Becoming a victim of identity theft can involve theft of your money if a thief drains your bank account. Identity theft can also damage your credit if a thief uses your personal information to obtain credit in your name. Prioritize the safety of your personal information to ensure that you protect yourself from the crime of identity theft.
Keep Important Papers and Documents Secure
As you manage your personal finances, you will accumulate documents that list personal information and bank account information. If a thief gains access to these documents, it would be possible to withdraw money from your bank accounts, use your credit cards, and use your personal information to open new credit accounts. For this reason, home security is an important safeguard to keep your documents safe from theft. You might keep documents in a locked safe in your home. Another option is to keep important papers in a safe deposit box. Never allow mail to sit for an extended period in your mailbox because of the threat of theft. For added security, consider installing a locked mailbox to protect your mail.
Staying Safe Online
Online safety is another important area for preventing identity theft. If you conduct bank transactions or access a bank account online, set secure passwords to protect your accounts from fraud. Install strong firewall and virus protection on your computer to keep your system safe. Use the utmost care with the unsolicited emails you receive, realizing that criminals often send phishing emails designed to get you to send out your personal information by reply email. Never send financial information via email. If you frequent social media websites or other websites with chat features, keep your accounts secure with strong passwords. Do not share your account or personal information with others online.
Protect Mobile Devices
Maintain security on mobile devices to protect your identity. If you use Wi-Fi connectivity on a smartphone or tablet, use care when you are connected to a public wireless network. It's possible for a thief to intercept data you send over a public connection, so avoid using your device for sensitive functions when connected to a public network. When you are ready to upgrade to a new device, always erase your old device completely to prevent someone from accessing your personal information.
Track Your Credit
Part of complete home security involves monitoring your credit regularly. You can receive a free copy of your credit report once each year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. By reviewing your credit report, you can ensure that it's accurate without any suspicious activity. Suspicious activity could include the opening of new accounts that you did not open or an unexpected dip in your credit score. If you notice suspicious activity, freeze your credit report and file reports with local authorities.
- Signs of Identity Theft: Learn common signs of identity theft to help you monitor your finances and detect problems quickly.
- Identity Protection Tips: The IRS warns that people must protect their Social Security numbers from being stolen for the purpose of filing fraudulent income tax returns.
- Protect Yourself From ID Theft: Take steps to protect your identity, such as disposing of old electronics securely to prevent others from accessing your private information.
- Identity Theft/Privacy Issues: The U.S. government defines identity theft and provides a list of resources to help consumers protect themselves.
- Prevent and Report Identity Theft: Follow specific steps to keep your identity safe, such as leaving your Social Security card at home and collecting your mail promptly from your mailbox.
- 10 Ways To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft: The Houston Police Department explains important safeguards for preventing identity theft, including removing your name from marketing lists and monitoring your credit report.
- What is Identity Theft?: Keeping your mail secure is an important strategy for preventing identity theft, according to the Tennessee Office of Attorney General.
- Identity Theft: Explore ways to protect your identity, as presented by the FDIC, including ensuring that the papers you throw away do not contain sensitive information such as bank account numbers.
- More Than a Number: Identity Theft Prevention: Setting strong passwords to your online accounts is one way to protect yourself from identity theft.
- Prevent Identity Theft: Pretext calls are another type identity theft, in which a caller might impersonate a bank representative, requesting personal information such as bank account numbers.
- Understanding Identity Theft: Understanding the sophistication of identity theft threats and your vulnerability can help you keep your identity safer.
- Protecting Your Computer and Your Identity: Your computer use can be a potential vulnerability if a criminal uses a virus to access your information.
- Top 10 Tips For Identity Theft Protection: Phishing scams are one way criminals get access to personal information for identity theft.
- Identity Theft and Financial Fraud: Learn identity theft laws so you understand how the government protects you from fraud.
- Information on How to Protect Your Identity: Act swiftly if you think you are a victim of identity theft to minimize the damage.
- Identity Theft: The FBI offers information and advice about identity theft.
- Safeguarding American Consumers and Families: Explore legislation in effect designed to protect American consumers from identity theft.
- Protect Yourself From Identity Theft: Freeze laws are designed to protect consumers by freezing credit reports. Once it is frozen, no one (including criminals) can use a credit report for obtaining credit.
- How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft: Learn about the typical information sought by identity thieves to help you protect yourself.
- Child Identity Theft: Thieves also target children to steal their identities, so protect your children's identities.
- Identity Theft and Identity Fraud: Explore identity theft and the risks as presented by the U.S. Department of Justice.
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