With the current financial crisis as the backdrop, it seems that identity theft is becoming a common problem. It seemed to have never become an expensive problem as businesses try to reclaim the losses. In fact, identity theft costs businesses billions of dollars per year, according to the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. A recent study found that nearly 1.4 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2020. And that is expected to jump to 5.4 million in 2022. It is important to note that this does not include the additional victims who do not report their losses to law enforcement or any of the various other identity theft prevention methods.
Anyone can be a victim of identity theft, but you can lessen your chances of becoming a victim by taking a few simple steps to safeguard your personal information.
Identity Theft Prevention
One of the most important tools for helping to prevent identity theft is to make sure your financial information is safe. That means not giving out your credit card numbers to stores, making sure to shred any credit cards you are no longer using, and keeping your Social Security card hidden and off your body.
Also, if you have a debit card, you need to make sure to change your PIN and keep it safe. These are just a few ways to try to help protect your financial information. Another way to help prevent identity theft is to monitor your credit reports. Just remember to always be cautious of where you get your credit reports and monitor them regularly.
There are many ways to help detect and recover from identity theft, including reporting your theft to the three major credit bureaus, your local police, or the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). These reports can be an excellent starting point to begin recovering from identity theft. But often, your identity theft can go undetected for long periods of time, and this can be a dangerous and expensive mistake.
Detecting Identity Theft
If you notice something suspicious and need to confirm or verify a suspected fraud, you can contact the police or the FTC. But you must contact both agencies. The police can only report a possible fraud that has taken place. The FTC can report any of the three major credit bureaus (but only if you are unable to contact them through the normal channels). If you do not report your identity theft to the three major credit bureaus within a specified time period, then you can be subject to having a penalty assessed on your accounts.
When it comes to detecting and recovering from identity theft, many of the methods are just as important as the other methods for protecting yourself. One of the best ways to help with detecting and recovering from identity theft is to use one of the many identity theft protection services, such as Spokeo. It works in a variety of ways – from preventing identity theft to helping to identify your fraudsters.
As previously mentioned, prevention is one of the best ways to avoid identity theft. As always, monitor your credit reports closely. If you see any suspicious activity, contact the police, the FTC, or the major credit bureaus. In addition, you need to monitor your credit accounts regularly. Some of the more recent fraud is becoming harder and harder to detect. And even in instances where a crime may have been reported, it may still be difficult to catch the criminal. Make sure you do your best to avoid being a victim of identity theft.
How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
To prevent identity theft, you have to think about two things:
- Protecting your personal information – Theft happens because your personal information is stolen, either by accident, through the actions of people you’ve entrusted with your information, or by outright fraud. Theft happens because someone has access to your personal information that allows them to take on your identity. Protecting your personal information is a matter of vigilance and awareness. The most important thing you can do is to be alert to fraud and to change your passwords regularly. If you’re aware of the risks, you’ll be able to do more to protect yourself.
- Protecting your privacy and reputation online – Identity theft isn’t just about personal information. Most crimes committed online are about identity theft as the fraudsters use your stolen personal information to pretend to be you. The main goal is to make it difficult for you to get your identity back. Some identity thieves even try to use the information they have stolen to commit more crimes. How you use the internet has a big impact on your privacy and reputation. By using your online identity responsibly, you can control who sees what information about you and you can protect your privacy and your reputation.
Identity theft can happen to anyone, but the easiest way to protect your identity is to never give out your personal information in the first place. When you create an account with a service, make sure you use a different email address for each service. The only way someone can use your personal information is if they steal your identity, and it’s much easier to steal your identity if they know your sensitive information.
10 ways to protect yourself from identity theft
There are 10 other ways to help prevent identity theft. These include:
- Credit identity theft
- Create different passwords for your accounts
- Child identity theft
- Collect mail daily.
- Review credit reports annually
- Review credit card and bank statements regularly.
- Synthetic identity theft
- Install antivirus software
- Limit What You Carry
- Shred documents containing personal information before disposing of them.
- Taxpayer identity theft
- Enable two-factor authentication on devices and accounts
- Opt out of prescreened credit card offers
- Medical identity theft
- Wipe electronics before donating
- Criminal identity theft
Ensure that your personal information is safely secured, especially if you have roommates or employ outside help.
1. Notify any other financial institutions with which you may have a relationship.
2. Make your insurance company aware of your situation.
3. Notify the credit bureaus and have a warning note posted on your credit records.
4. Account statements and credit reports should be reviewed on a monthly basis.
Digital Identilty Theft Protection Advice
To protect the personal information stored on your electronic devices, such as a laptop, tablet, or cell phone, take the following steps:
- Downloading files from strangers is not a good idea.
- Use a secure browser and a firewall.
- Keep your virus protection up to date.
- Automatic log-in methods that save your account name and password should be avoided.
- When you’re ready to get rid of your gadget, erase all personal data and wipe the hard disc clean.