In an increasingly digital world, it seems like there are more ways every day that a criminal could use to steal your identity and commit fraud. Identity theft is a major and pervasive issue that can cause you a lot more than just a headache.
As a victim of identity theft, you may face legal complications, lose benefits, or have serious financial and credit issues that could prevent you from getting a loan or living the life you want to lead. Unfortunately, you have to be constantly vigilant in order to prevent the theft of your identity, and even then you may not always be successful.
Below we’ve listed six useful tips you can use to help minimize your risk of identity theft. If you want to learn more about protecting your identity or you fear you may have been victimized, please do not hesitate to give us a call.
We understand that you’ve got a lot on your plate and you have a thousand different services or websites that require a password, so memorizing a complicated password can be tough. But if you really want to fend off hackers, your password has to be strong and constantly changing. Use eight or more characters, make sure it is unrelated to any specific aspect of your life, use numbers, symbols, and both capital and lowercase letters, and change it every couple months. And don’t list your passwords anywhere on a computer to help you remember. If you need help, write them on paper and lock them away somewhere secure.
2. Shred sensitive documents
Never just throw away documents that have bank account info or your social security number or other sensitive information. Identity thieves are not above rummaging through the trash for your information. Shred it all.
Monitor your bank accounts, credit card statements, and credit report for anything unusual. If you spot purchases you didn’t make or unexpected changes to your credit score, you need to take action quickly to freeze accounts and send out fraud alerts.
If you keep any sensitive information on your computer, or if you do any banking or other financial transactions online, invest in powerful anti-virus software and a strong firewall to prevent digital identity theft.
5. Protect your mail
Drop outgoing mail in US post office boxes or at the post office itself so it can’t be stolen. Do not let incoming mail sit in your mailbox. Know when the mail comes and make sure you grab it quickly.
6. Protect your SSN
Never give your social security number out unless you absolutely have to, and even then make sure it is a situation where you know an SSN is required (i.e.: taxes), or that you initiated the contact.
Scams are everywhere, and having your identity stolen can cause serious complications and problems in your life. Always be on the look out for red flags when finances or sensitive information is involved, and move quickly to protect yourself if you have suspicions of illicit activity. If you’ve been the victim of identity theft, please call Bell Law and let us help you get your life back on track.