6 Effective Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

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Published by GreenSprout Experts | 11/22/22

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These days, your data and information get stored on just about every platform you log into or sign up for. Whenever we share our personal information when signing up on an online platform, whether it be a social media site like Facebook or Instagram, an online store, etc., we take the risk of our personal information being exposed.

This is not an immediate reason for alarm, as it doesn't happen often. But sometimes, even the largest and most secure of websites can get hacked and thousands of customers' personal information stolen for an illegal purpose.

Victims of identity theft will tell you what a tremendous hassle it is to clean up the situation afterward. Identity thieves can end up stealing your money, damaging your credit and reputation, and more.

Therefore, it is always a smart move to take steps to prevent identity theft. Here are a few common ways that you can do this:

1. Freeze your credit.

When you freeze your credit, no one can look up your credit report. Therefore, they can't use your credit card, apply for a loan, or create another account while your credit is frozen. If you suspect your personal information might have been exposed, freezing your credit is a great way to minimize risk until you can confirm that your information is secure.

2. Protect your mail.

Even with today's modern technology, the methods by which some criminals steal others' identities remain low-tech. For example, some identity thieves steal mail that they can use to see your bank statements, utility bills, health care information, or tax forms. Empty your mailbox daily to reduce the risk of someone grabbing your personal mail. To take securing your mail a step further, invest in a mailbox that locks, or rent a PO box.

3. Review your credit card and bank statements regularly.

It is vital that you check your credit card and bank statements. If a thief has accessed your credit card or bank account information, you should be able to notice slight changes, withdrawals, or other misuse before the damages become too much. The earlier you discover the issue, the less your potential damages will be, and the sooner you can get on top of securing your accounts.

4. Secure your personal documents at home.

In the event of a break-in occurring at home, most people initially focus on their cash, jewelry, and electronics. But some criminals also hunt for important papers, like bank and credit card statements. To prevent identity theft, save your important papers in your house in a secure place, like a small safe. Simply leaving them in an unlocked drawer or file cabinet makes them an easy target for thieves.

5. Wipe your electronics before donating them.

When you simply drag files from your computer or other tech devices to the trash bin, they are not completely deleted. Some information remains in the system, and identity thieves are aware of this. Donating old devices to charity is a great thing to do, but put in the extra effort to make sure the devices have been completely formatted or restored before giving them away to reduce any chances that your personal information could be exposed.

6. Enable 2-factor authentication on your devices.

It is estimated that at least 80% of hacking-related breaches occur due to stolen or compromised passwords. Two-factor authentication is like a second layer of protection. Once it is activated (usually with a secure app on your device), you have to present 2 or more pieces of evidence before logging into a secure website or application. For example, if you log in with your username and password, you'll also receive a confirmation text on your mobile number or be asked to confirm using face or fingerprint ID. As a result, even if a criminal knows your username and password, they won't be able to log in. This is a very powerful way to prevent identity theft.

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