Are you vulnerable to identity theft? You might be, especially if you haven’t taken any steps to protect your personal information or your online accounts. Consumers between the ages of 40 and 69 experience the most identity theft. Once they get their hands on your personal information, identity thieves can steal money from your bank accounts, open new credit accounts in your name, get healthcare using your insurance, and more.
You need to take steps to protect your identity. You need some good antivirus software and a good password manager. Stop sharing personal information on social media. Use an anonymous browser. Pay attention to your mail and read your monthly statements.
Get a Good Antivirus Software
Antivirus software can do a lot to protect your identity. Its spam filter can protect you from phishing emails that aim to steal your login details to bank and shopping websites, or even other financial and personal information. Probably the majority of malware and viruses are written to steal personal information, so when your system is protected against infection, your identity is protected, too.
Plus, a good antivirus suite will include some form of ID protection. You want dark web monitoring, so that you know when your information has been compromised on the dark web and you can react accordingly by changing passwords and placing a fraud alert on your credit report. ID protection should also include recovery assistance and, ideally, some insurance coverage to help you defray the costs of having your identity stolen.
Manage Your Passwords
You can’t keep using the same password for everything, sorry. Yes, it’s hard to remember strong and unique passwords for all of your online accounts, especially when you have so many. And writing them down isn’t a great idea either, because what if the wrong person finds your list of usernames and passwords?
You need a password manager. Password managers help you generate strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts, and they’ll store them for you so you can have them handy anytime you need to sign into anything. You’ll only have to remember the master password that gains you access to the database.
Remove Personal Data from Social Media
Identity thieves can glean a lot of personal information from the right kind of social media profile. Don’t let it be one of yours. Remove personal information, like your birthday and your hometown, from social media. Keep off social media any information that could help identity thieves answer your password security questions.
An anonymous browser won’t save cookies, browsing history, or temporary internet files on your computer. You won’t get tracked by ads and many anonymous browsers have ad blocking built in. If you want your online activities to be truly private, use an anonymous browser.
Watch Your Mail
Mail theft is just one way that identity thieves get access to the information they need to commit their crimes. Keep an eye on your mail and bring it in as soon as possible after it comes so no one rifles through it. If something you’ve been expecting doesn’t come, that could be a sign you’ve been victimized.
Read Your Monthly Statements
Ideally, you should set up alerts so that you’re notified every time a transaction goes through on one of your accounts. That way, you can spot suspicious transactions immediately and report the fraud before too much damage is done.
If you don’t want to get alerts, you should at the very least look at your statements every month to make sure you have authorized all the transactions. If you use your credit card’s app, you can monitor transactions as they appear in your history.
Monitor Your Financial Activity and Credit Report
You should always be paying attention to what’s going on with your bank and credit accounts and your credit report. Check your bank balance often and review transactions to make sure you recognize them. Do the same with your credit cards. Use a credit monitoring service – you can often get them for free from banks and credit card issuers – to watch for any suspicious new accounts on your credit or sudden, unexplained changes in your credit score.
If you haven’t taken steps to protect your identity, then chances are you’re vulnerable to identity theft. Identity theft is getting more common, and you don’t want to be a hapless victim. Protect yourself, so you can prevent identity theft, or at least keep it from doing too much damage to your life.