Over 15 million people in the United States fall victim to the fastest growing crime of identity theft each year, and even with modern technology that number will continually climb. The best identity theft protection starts with you and how you choose to protect your private information.
Identity theft comes in a variety of forms and uses. Your personal information such as your name, your date of birth, your credit card numbers, your social security number can be used to commit theft and other crimes without your permission. A thief could literally commit a crime, steal thousands of dollars, even take out a loan in your name and you discover this nightmare well after the damage is done.
Did you know that even your medical information can be hacked and your medical insurance fraudulently used?
Learning to protect yourself and all of your personal information keeps getting harder each day. We constantly hear of security breaches, companies getting hacked, personal information being stolen in a variety of ways.
Learn to protect your (including all of your family) birthday date, all account numbers, passwords, banking info, stock info, employee work I.D. numbers, especially your social security number , pin numbers, your drivers license number, loan numbers, even your utility bill accounts.
A huge scam that is going around especially this time of year is of major concern, if these scammers get your social security number, they can literally go and file with the Internal Revenue Service using your information, pose as you and file a tax return. With modern technology and having your personal information, making up false w2’s and other information is no problem. That nasty “scum bag” can have your refund sent anywhere, and guess what, you are left with a nightmare of a mess when you do your own personal return only to find out that it has been fraudulently filed already. It will probably take you a year or more to straighten out, major headaches, (who knows how much it will cost) and then you also have to make sure it doesn’t happen again!
Protect your wallet, your phone…whatever your carry!
I tell my family and you should do this also, at least once a year to make photo copies of all important information that you carry in your wallet, such as your license, all of your cards including credit, debit, insurance, library, store cards, medical information. Take those photo copies and put in a safe place. If something does happen, if your information is lost or stolen you will know exactly what is missing and putting stops on everything will be easier. I still use checks but I will only carry 2 or 3 at a time in my wallet and as soon as I get home I record what I used them for.
What type of personal information are you exposing on social media?
Review your stuff and eliminate. Do you really have to expose to the world birthdates, nicknames, parents middle names, maiden names, your favorite numbers, where you are going to be at all times?
Do you realize how dangerous those pre approved credit card and insurance offers could be if someone has your personal information?
A big scam that changes lives and affects over 50,000 people each year is when an individual receives a call and the party on the other end claim they are calling from the IRS, strongly stating you owe back taxes and demanding your pay immediately. Just remember, the IRS does not make calls to people, they only contact through mail services. So hang up that phone and do not give out any information!
Last year I received information myself that my health insurance company had a major data breach. Not only myself, but hundreds of thousands of people were affected ,and what about the Target issue just a couple of years ago that occurred at the holiday season, were you part of that?
What can you do to be safe from identity theft?
- Clean out, clean up and organize all paper records, keep all of your information and passwords as private as you totally can.
- Figure out a way that fits for you to keep your passwords organized and under lock and key.
- I know it might seem like a hassle but getting your personal information in order will give you better protection, will decrease the headaches, time and money it will cost you if you do get hacked.
- Carry as little as possible in your wallet or purse,
- Clean up your desk top on your computer and phone
- Delete old files that are no longer being used.
- Be aware of who you give authorization to do automatic withdraws from your accounts.
- Use a good shredder, people also get scammed when they unknowing throw away private papers in the trash. Yes it does happen that people will pilferage through trash in an attempt to get personal information
What is your best protection?
Most identity theft protection services do not prevent identity theft.
They are basic credit monitoring companies that obtain information from the credit bureaus. These are not identity theft prevention services. A credible identity theft prevention service is an important component of an overall identity theft protection strategy.
The best identity theft protection service should offer total prevention, detection, alerts and recovery.
Make sure the company you go with offers daily monitoring and early detention of your personal information including your bank cards, credit reports, public records, credit cards and social security. Look for an excellent company that will make calls, handle all the paperwork, handle every detail and offers a excellent backup guarantee. And finally consider all of your option and what works best for your situation. The best identity theft protection is to stay smart, and know how to protect yourself, it’s only going to get worse out there.