With identity theft on the rise, protecting your personal information is more important than ever before. From financial fraud to unauthorized access to sensitive data, the consequences can be devasting. However, there are proactive measures you can take to protect your identity and ensure peace of mind.
Secure important paper records at home and dispose safely
Keep sensitive paper records such as your social security card, tax returns, medical records and financial statements in a secured and private area in your home. Do NOT leave these important documents in your wallet, purse, or the back seat of your car. Also invest in a paper shredder. Don’t just crumple and throw these important documents in the garbage, they can be exposed to dumpster divers.
Know when your information is safe on a public wi-fi network
Today it is common for people to access public wi-fi networks at places like coffee shops, the gym, or the airport. Many websites use encryption to protect your information from hackers. Look for a lock symbol, or https in the address bar to the left of the website address, to make sure your information is encrypted and safe. Some mobile apps use encryption, but it’s best to avoid going on your banking app or any apps with personal data on a public wi-fi network.
Spot the red flags of a phishing scam
Phishing is when someone poses as a legitimate institution to lure individuals into providing sensitive data. If your financial institution or another company contacts you and is pushing you to provide personal information such as your social security number or account number, THAT IS A RED FLAG. Ignore them and call the company’s phone number found on their official website to verify if it was really them that contacted you.
Identity theft can be a difficult experience that damages your credit, finances, and reputation. By learning proactive measures, we can better protect ourselves and counter these threats. If you feel like you have been a victim of identity theft, report the incident to the Federal Trade Commission and file a police report with your local police department.