5 Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft

Avoid Identity TheftAccording to the Bureau of Justice, a 2014 survey reported that the number of elderly victims of identity theft increased from 2.1 million in 2012 to 2.6 million in 2014. As online purchasing and credit or debit card swiping is becoming increasingly useful in today’s busy world, we must all take necessary precautions to protect our finances and identities from theft. In the excerpt* below, Carolyn Dorant of The Simple Dollar shares five tips to help prevent identity theft.

5 Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft

Identity theft is a tricky crime to predict: Wealthy individuals with lots of accounts aren’t necessarily targeted more often than someone with, say, a low checking account balance or a dinged-up credit score. And, Weisman explains, “As technology improves, the problems with identity theft will, unfortunately, also increase.” Levin agrees, “The reality is that everywhere you go, everything you do is being tracked, gathered, stored, disseminated. With all the things out there collecting our data, we have to focus on what I call the 3 Ms: Minimize the risk of exposure; Monitor accounts; and Manage the damage.”

The steps for prevention are all pretty obvious and you’ve likely heard some version of them before. But they’re worth a reminder — especially if you’re not already following the advice.

Be careful with sensitive documentation
“The least amount of information you can carry, you should,” says Minniti. That personal information includes your Social Security card, medical ID cards, credit card statements, bank account numbers, tax documents — even your driver’s license. Don’t carry them unless you have to and make them difficult to find in your home too.

Use strong passwords
Don’t use personal information like names, birthdates, and addresses as passwords. $ecuR!tY!! is a much more complicated password than “security.” And remember: If you can Google your name and find out your high school mascot, your mom’s maiden name, or the street you grew up on, those don’t make great “Forgot your password?” prompts.

I also recommend taking this a step further by using a password manager. There are several great options out there (like 1Password and Dashlane) that generate incredibly strong passwords and keep them all accounted for in an encrypted vault. Some can even update weak passwords for you automatically.

Don’t click on mystery links
If it’s a brand-new email notification your bank has never sent before, proceed with caution.

Never authenticate yourself to unknown sources
“Theoretically, they know who you are. That’s why they’re contacting you,” says Levin. You shouldn’t need to, say, rattle off the last four digits of your SSN to anyone who’s calling you.

Master your smartphone’s security features
“Phones are data storage devices, not just communication devices,” Levin explains. “Have a complex PIN number. Have it shut off faster. Opt in to remote data wiping.” Apple iPhones equipped with Find My iPhone can remotely wipe all data off of a stolen phone, and Google Android phones with Android Lost perform a similar function. Back your phone up regularly so that you can wipe without remorse!

* This excerpt and the article in its entirety was originally featured on The Simple Dollar

Fore more identity protection tips and resources and to read the entire article by Carolyn Dorant,
visit http://www.thesimpledollar.com/best-identity-theft-protection-services/

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