Hopefully, that was a no-brainer question.
The point is: when a bad situation occurs, we want to protect ourselves.
What if I told you that, instead of something crazy like a meatball storm, a hurricane was going to hit your area.
You would probably hunker down for safety, right? Secure your property, stock up on essentials and keep an eye on all your loved ones.
When you know a negative situation is bound to occur, most of us would do our absolute best to prevent the effects.
An identity is stolen every 2 seconds. It’s common, and it can happen to you. There is no way to stop it from affecting you—but, with the right safety net in hand, you can avoid it as long as possible and have a reliable action plan to fall back on just in case.
Avoiding Identity Theft
No one can prevent all identity theft or monitor all transactions at all businesses. But, staying vigilant against the common methods of identity theft is a great place to start.
- Stealing: Whether it’s your wallet, your password, or your credit card, never leave your personal info vulnerable to thieves and looky-loos. There are millions of scumbags out there looking for a quick buck and an easy target.
Fight it: At the risk of sounding like your mother, you must to be diligent about your personal information and your surroundings! Fraudsters aren’t just looking to swipe your wallet or phone—they can dig through your trash, take your mail or look over your shoulder at the ATM. Just being aware of that fact helps.
- Fraud: The schemes some fraudsters come up with would blow your mind! They will try complicated tactics to look as legitimate as possible. Phone fraud and robocalls are more common than ever, with scammers using one piece of your information to trick you into paying fake late fees, legal costs and more. Or, they get your personal information by claiming you’ve won something.
Fight it: Never give out your personal information to someone you don’t know over the phone—even if (and they will) try to pressure you and play on your emotions. Know your rights!
How to Prevent Identity Theft Online
As the world connects deeper through the online space, we’ve seen an ever-increasing rise in cybercrime. Here are a few ways identity thieves strike online.
- Phishing: Sometimes, malicious emails and websites are obvious not to click on or submit info to—other times, not so much. Phishing is getting trickier and more sophisticated.
Fight it: The key to spotting an illegitimate email or website are generic greetings (“Dear user” or “Hello member”), odd email addresses, personal information required, urgent language and/or misspelled information. When in doubt, delete the email and exit the unknown website immediately.
- Spyware and malware: An unfortunate accompaniment to the World Wide Web, spyware and malware commonly find their way onto PCs. Even mobile devices get hacked for personal information.
Fight it: Avoid public WiFi, regularly delete your history/cookies and make a habit of having a strong phone and computer password, which you change often. Never leave electronics unattended, and bolster security with added apps and anti-malware software.
- Data breaches: The amount of sensitive information exposed from data breaches in 2018 increased by 126% from the previous year. In a post-Equifax world, most businesses make it a point to focus on data security and best practices, but there’s still many ways a data breach can occur—from an outside hacker, or an authorized insider.
Fight it: This is a tricky one. As a consumer, you don’t have a lot of control over where your information goes after you transact with a business. However, by keeping a close eye on your credit score and bank account statements, you’ll be aware of any suspicious activity as soon as it occurs. Monitoring services also help you stay ahead of the curve.
You Can’t Prevent Identity Theft—But You Can Reduce Your Risk.
The negative effects of identity theft can last years. The best way to minimize this risk is to have a comprehensive plan in place. Not one that just acts as damage control, either—a preventative plan for the short- and long-term, with the right tools in place for you to spring into action if need be:
- Long-term prevention
- Internet and dark web monitoring
- Breach alerts
- Quick plan of attack
- Lost wallet protection
- Credit freeze
- Identity theft restoration
- Identity theft insurance
- Access anytime you need it