7 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
It is easier than ever before for scammers to steal people's identities; with millions of Americans using the internet for various services and providing their personal data online, identity thieves can hack personal information, sell it to others, or use it themselves. Identity theft is often used to steal credit and account information, which allows identity thieves to steal set up a credit line, and steal people's money. To make sure you are safe from identity theft, you must take several precautionary measures for identity theft prevention that will save you time, money, and a lot of grief.
1. Order yearly credit reports
Many people do not know that they are entitled to a free credit report once a year from each of the three credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion). You can order one free report every four months to see your credit status and keep an eye on what goes on with your credit. By checking this data, you can find out if someone is using your credit data and report it to the proper authorities. However, you must keep in mind that you will only be able to see one credit report at a time, which means that identity theft could appear in the reports that you are not reading. To make sure that does not happen, you can pay to get your credit reports from all three agencies once every few months and check your credit status.
2. Put an alert on your credit reports
When identity thieves want to steal people's money, they open accounts in their names and do their deeds. An alert on your credit reports will help you discover if someone is attempting to open accounts in your name; such an alert notifies businesses that they must confirm the identity of the person who is opening an account when he/she tries to do so. If someone tries to open an account in your name, you will be alerted to confirm whether you are the one who is attempting to open a new account. If not, you can pervert identity theft with one easy step.
3. Keep track of your accounts
The digital age may make it easy for identity thieves to steal people's identities, but you can also use technology to your advantage. If you have bank, credit, or loan accounts, you can log into your accounts from wherever you are and check what is going on in your accounts. By keeping track of your accounts, you will be able to see if there is suspicious activity in your accounts and nip it in the bud.
4. Do not give out your personal information over the phone/online
Scammers who try to steal people's identities often call them and notify their intended victims that they have debt, that they owe money to the IRS, or pretend to represent government agencies or law agencies. By creating fear, identity thieves trick people into giving them their social security number, account information, and credit information. You must first know that government agencies do not contact individuals via the phone or email, but through the US post.
So, if someone calls you and asks for your personal information, do not give it out. Instead, search for the official contact information of the agency/individual that contacted you and find out if there is indeed an issue that you need to fix. Otherwise, it is likely that you were contacted by an identity thief that tried to get their hands on your social security number or other information. To verify people's information, you can use ProPeopleSearch's people search/phone number search/address search directories. With the online service, you will receive important data, such as names, aliases, criminal records, and other details that will help you find out who has called you.
5. Do not be tempted by pre-approved credit card offers
If you are in need of a loan, pre-approved loans can be helpful. However, if you have no use for such a loan, you should get rid of of-preapproved loans, as they often contain personal information that identity thieves may use. If you get such an offer via mail, shred or cut it before throwing it away. You can also opt out temporarily or permanently from pre-approved loan offers, and prevent identity theft.
6. Protect your mailbox
Mailboxes are a hunting ground for identity thieves who search these personal mailboxes to get personal information; medical insurance data, pre-paid credit offers, utility bills, and other mail contain personal data that is valuable to an identity thief, so you should protect your mailbox as much as possible. If you can, install a USPS-approved locked mailbox or a P.O. Box (Post Office Box) where you can safely get and pick up your mail. If not, check your mailbox daily and collect whatever mail is in there to prevent information theft.
7. Do not click on links that are sent to your email account
Aside from actual mailboxes, online mailboxes are also a target for identity theft; many identity thieves send emails from false accounts, pretending to be their victim's friend or family member, and asking individuals to click on links. Some send emails with a guarantee of a reward when clicking a link that leads to nowhere good. So, even though it may seem tempting, do not click links that you receive in your email box; they may contain malware that will steal your personal data or forms that ask you to provide your personal information, which you should never share through your email account.
Prevention is the best fight against identity theft which causes Americans to lose millions of dollars every year. By taking a few precautionary measures, you will be able to prevent identity theft and your information from getting into the wrong hands. So, play it safe and do what you can to stop yourself from becoming the next victim of identity theft.