Take a step back and consider the sheer amount of important information collected about you. It’s astonishing to think that one day it might be compromised or even stolen. Thinking about identity theft can be anxiety-inducing, but prevention is the best medicine.
When this happens to you, how do you begin the process of unraveling the threads of identity theft?
How Identity Theft Can Harm Your Financial Reputation
Identity theft is a growing epidemic. If left untreated, it can cause massive amounts of damage and ruin an individual’s reputation.
Victims of identity theft face numerous legal and financial repercussions. Identity thieves might open accounts, buy goods, and commit crimes in your name. It can affect your ability to obtain credit in the future.
Victims often experience stress and uncertainty as they attempt to minimize the damage identity theft can inflict.
How Criminals Are Stealing and Using Your Information
The advance of technology has provided crooks with even more opportunities to steal your information.
As technology advances, cybercriminals are refining their craft. Hackers are experts at using software to access private information on your computer. Newer tech means bigger hacking loopholes, which are being exploited for your information.
High-tech identity thieves are landing millions of dollars by seizing personal data, which can happen in a matter of minutes.
Hackers steal names, phone numbers, birthdates, and Social Security numbers. They collect credit card information and other financial data. Your name may be used to open accounts at stores that will never send you a bill for those purchases.
Then the criminals contact the credit card companies and say you lost your cards. They’ll need to verify some personal information like your address or Social Security number. They can then file a change of address form with the U.S.P.S. to forward your mail to a new location. Then they wait for a replacement card — all without ever having to steal your password.
It’s clear identity thieves are getting more aggressive, developing new ways to get your personal information. It’s important you do everything you can to protect yourself.
To protect your finances, you’ll need to be prepared for anything. It’s important to research how digital security could fail and make emergency plans. Risk reduction is key to avoiding theft, fraud, and financial loss.
How to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft
It’s a fact: identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the U.S. and it is a problem that affects millions of Americans.
This is why the Federal Trade Commission created an educational program. “AvoID Theft: Deter, Detect, Defend” will help you understand why identity theft happens and what you can do to help prevent it.
How to Keep Your Personal Information Safe from Identity Thieves
The first step is to keep all personal information out of reach and sight of anyone who could gain access to it.
Before disposal, shred all paperwork containing sensitive information. That includes credit cards, bank account numbers, and date of birth. Also, shred old checks and bank statements.
Protect your Social Security number. Don’t show it to people who shouldn’t have access to it. Always ask why it’s needed and how it will be protected.
Information you share online may be viewed by anyone, including potential identity thieves. Be wary and treat all unknown telephone and email contacts as possible scammers. Additionally, use virus-scanning software that can detect and remove viruses from your computer.
For more tips on keeping your personal information secure, here are Free help, tips and advice on avoiding and dealing with Identity Theft
How to Detect Suspicious Activity that Indicates Identity Theft
Being proactive could save you the inconvenience of having your identity stolen.
It is wise to check your credit report often. You can order one free copy every year from the three credit bureaus. Reviewing these reports is sometimes necessary to detect credit fraud.
Monitor your financial accounts to detect suspicious activity. Financial and medical records are some of the most prominent targets for identity theft. Examine billing statements and credit card statements regularly for signs of fraud.
What to Do if You’re a Victim of Identity Theft or Fraud
If you suspect you are a victim of identity theft, contact one of the three credit bureaus. You can place a fraud alert on your credit file. This prevents creditors from opening new accounts or changing information on an existing account without first contacting you.
Contact and follow up with the security and fraud departments of each company where an unauthorized account was opened or unauthorized charges were made. Keep copies of documents and records of your conversations about the theft.
File a report with law enforcement officials and the Federal Trade Commission. The report helps law enforcement officials investigate and prosecute criminals. It also gives the FTC information it can use to crack down on scam artists who victimize you or your family.
If you believe you have been compromised, follow this step-by-step guide on how to report identity theft.
How an Identity Theft Protection Service Can Help You Deter, Detect, Defend
When it comes to identity theft, time is everything. The faster you’re aware of suspicious activity, the faster you can act. This means less damage to your financial reputation.
Automatic credit monitoring can help you prevent identity theft. Multiple layers of alerts give you multiple layers of protection.
There are numerous companies offering monitoring and alerts. Some provide an online portal to organize your records so you can protect yourself.
An identity theft protection service goes the extra mile to offer preventative features. These include dark web scans, bank account monitoring, and safe browsing/anti-phishing tools.
If you are looking for a powerful, yet easy-to-use identity theft protection solution, you’re in the right place. Read my in-depth reviews and I will help you pick the best identity theft protection service for your needs.