According to a recent research study, hackers caused Americans to lose $56 billion dollars to identity fraud in 2020. Although scammers have become more aggressive in their tactics, such as making unsolicited calls and sending authentic-looking emails, there are still many ways you can keep your information and identity safe. Here are five measures to help you stay safe from identity theft.
Trust No One
As a rule, no government agency will ever call and demand your personal information on the spot. They rely on the U.S. post office for official correspondence. Make it a rule to be suspicious of any unexpected email or call, especially if they urgently request private details. They should never ask for your social security number, birth date, or banking information. For any request that comes in, hang up or delete the email, and then contact the institution or company directly. A legitimate business or organization will not push back if you say you’d like to hang up and call them directly. If they push back or try to offer a phone number, recognize that as a red flag.
Be A Savvy Shopper
While shopping with a credit card is often safer than a debit card or cash, today’s newest technologies can help even further. Digital wallets use encrypted data that stop criminals from accessing your information. Whenever possible, use these forms of payment when shopping and leave your cards and cash at home.
Most financial institutions and businesses are doing their best to protect your information and assets. You can do your part by signing up for account alerts. Account alerts allow you to stay vigilant with your account management without it being time consuming. Alerts can also often let you know if someone tries to make a suspicious transaction.
Freeze Your Credit
A great way to guard against identity thieves is to freeze your credit. Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion all allow you to freeze your credit so accounts, like credit cards and loans, cannot be opened until you unfreeze. It’s easy to do, and it’s also equally simple to unfreeze them when you’re ready.
Keep A Close Eye on Your Credit Report
It’s always a good idea to review your credit report to see if there’s any misinformation, or if unauthorized individuals have made recent inquiries into your credit status. Everyone is eligible for one free report a year, and it can be requested at AnnualCreditReport.com. There are also apps like Credit Karma and IdentityForce that help you closely monitor your credit report on a regular basis.
For more tips and information about how you can protect yourself from identity theft, visit our website.