February 24, 2024

If you’ve been trying to secure identity theft protection, there are 10 proven things you can do to make it much harder for identity thieves to infiltrate your privacy as protective measures. It’s easy and a goodbye to theft!

Identity Theft Protection

In fact, this article contains all the information you require to lessen the likelihood that you will become a target. Pay attention to the warning signs and act quickly to reduce damage.

What is Identity Theft?

When someone impersonates you or steals from you using your personal information, identity theft has occurred.

Your bank and investment accounts could be drained, you could get new credit lines opened, you could get utility service, you could get your tax refund stolen, you could use your insurance information to get medical care, and you could even give police your name and address when they are apprehended.

You might already have had access to your information due to frequent data breaches. It makes sense to take precautions in this new reality to stop criminals from abusing your personal information and ruining your financial situation.

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Types of Identity Theft and the Warning Signs

Once a criminal has your info, below are common ways it may be exploited:

Credit Identity Theft

When a criminal uses your personal information, like your birthdate and Social Security number, to apply for a new credit line, this is known as credit identity theft.

A sudden change in your credit scores or the appearance of an unfamiliar account on your credit reports are both red flags.

You might receive notices of debt collection or a court ruling against you. Credit freezing is the best way to avoid it.

Child Identity Theft

Theft of a child’s identity allows criminals to apply for credit on that child’s behalf. It frequently goes undetected until the victim applies for student loans or other forms of credit.

Investigate if your child is receiving credit card offers or phone calls about missed payments or debt collection. To stop it, you can put your child’s credit on hold.

Synthetic Identity Theft

Synthetic identity theft occurs when criminals create a fictitious consumer using a patchwork of identity information, including a Social Security number that has not yet been registered in the credit bureaus’ database and is frequently that of a minor child or is made up entirely.

Then, as the credit limits increase, they apply for loans and credit cards and frequently make payments for years. When all cards are used, there is a “bust out,” after which the criminals vanish.

Warning signs: If you try to freeze your child’s credit and realize that their Social Security number is already in use.

Often times, it is not identified until the child is requesting student loans. However, since some criminals create and use Social Security numbers even before they are assigned, it is not always preventable.

Taxpayer Identity Theft

Your tax refund or tax credit may occasionally be stolen by fraudsters who file tax returns using your Social Security number.

You might not be able to file electronically because someone else has already done so using that Social Security number.

As a result, you may receive an IRS notice or letter mentioning an activity you were unaware of or suggesting that you worked for an employer you were not.

Early filing can help you prevent fraud, and some states provide six-digit identity protection PINs with additional security (after rigorous verification).

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft is the act of using another person’s identity to obtain medical services.

It can lead to mixed medical histories, which could give doctors and hospitals inaccurate information when making healthcare decisions. This makes it particularly dangerous.

An indication that someone is utilizing your health care benefits are claims or payments on your insurance’s explanation of benefits that you do not recognize.

If you have been a victim, you must notify your healthcare team and your insurance provider in order to ensure that the information in your medical records belongs to you.

Account Takeover

Criminals gain access to your financial accounts using personal information, then modify passwords or addresses to deny you access.

Warning signs: An email, letter, or text from your financial institution that makes reference to a suspicious action (like changing your password or email address) or transaction should raise red flags.

Criminal Identity Theft

When someone provides the name and address of another person to law enforcement during an arrest or investigation, criminal identity theft occurs. False identification, such as a fake driver’s license, is frequently used for this.

Warning signs: You could be denied employment or a promotion because of something discovered in a background check, or you could be detained by a police officer for reasons that are unclear to you.

10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

It is pretty unlikely to locate a faultless way to prevent identity theft, and monitoring services only let you know after something doesn’t feel right.

However, there are 10 things you can do to make it much harder for identity thieves.

Freeze Your Credit

Your credit can be frozen with all three of the major credit bureaus, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, which limits access to your records and prevents the opening of new credit files.

The best defense against identity thieves using your data to open new accounts is to freeze your credit, which you can do for free, and unfreeze it when you want to open a new account.

Safeguard Your Social Security Number

The master key to your personal information is your Social Security number. Protect it as much as you can. Ask why your number is required and how it will be protected when you are requested to provide it.

Don’t bring your card along. Documents containing your Social Security number should be kept safely or shredded.

Be Alert to Phishing and Spoofing

Scammers can make phone calls appear to be from businesses or government agencies, and emails that seem legitimate could be attempts to steal your personal data.

Instead of answering a call or email, start a callback or return email yourself, working from a reputable source like the official website. And watch out for attachments, as many of them contain malware.

Use Strong Passwords and Add an Authentication Step

Create and save complex, one-of-a-kind passwords for your accounts using a password manager. Keep passwords unique. An authenticator app can help you minimize your risk.

You can easily find the names of your pet and your mother’s maiden name, so don’t rely on security questions to keep your accounts safe.

Be careful what you post on social media to avoid disclosing important information or hints about how you respond to security questions.

Use Alerts

When transactions are made on your accounts, many financial institutions will send you a text or email.

Sign up to receive notifications about when and where your credit cards are used, as well as about withdrawals from and deposits into your financial accounts.

Watch Your Mailbox

One of the quickest ways to a stolen identity is through stolen mail. If you’re traveling, ask someone to hold your mail. Consider a lockable mailbox that has been authorized by the USPS.

The USPS also offers Informed Delivery, which provides you with a preview of your mail so you can determine if anything is missing.

Shred, Shred, Shred

Any credit card, bank, or investment statements that a thief could recover from your trash should not have been there to begin with. Also shred junk mail, particularly credit preapproval offers.

Use a Digital Wallet

Any credit card, bank, or investment statements that a thief could recover from your trash should not have been there to begin with. Also shred junk mail, particularly credit preapproval offers.

Protect Your Mobile Devices

Mobile devices pose a significant risk. Only 48% of us routinely lock our mobile devices, claims the Javelin report. On your electronic devices, use passwords. Instead of using a mobile browser for banking, use a banking app.

Check Your Credit Reports Regularly

Weekly free credit reports are available to consumers from the three major credit reporting bureaus through AnnualCreditReport.com.

Watch for signs of fraud, such as accounts you don’t recognize, and make sure that accounts are being reported correctly.

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Final Verdict

You might want to think about using an identity theft protection service if you feel you have done everything you can to safeguard your identity or if you lack the time to do so.

Protections can differ, but the majority provide additional safeguards for your privacy and other services. The paid service that fits your budget and provides you with the coverage you value is the best option.

Check to see if you have any discounts or benefits related to identity theft before you pay for one, though.

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