Are you safe from identity thieves?
Let’s face it; most of us don’t go a single day without searching for something on Google, checking our email, posting something on social media, or buying something online. The internet has become an essential tool in most of our daily lives and as our dependency on the internet increases, so does the potential threat of identity theft.
Techniques for collecting someone’s personal information have become more elaborate, and thieves are now using advanced strategies such as phishing, skimming, hacking, spyware and viruses to gather profiles of potential victims. By using basic personal information like your name, address and social insurance number, identity thieves can open credit card accounts, lease or buy cars, rent apartments or even engage in criminal activity using your stolen name.
While you may not be able to completely defend yourself from the threat of identity theft, you can certainly minimize your risk.
Here are 5 things you should be doing to help protect yourself and your family from identity theft:
Protect Your Passwords
I know it’s hard to ditch that password you have been using since you started your first Gmail account, but you should be using different passwords for all of your accounts. Also, it is a good idea to change your passwords every few months. It also goes without saying; never share your passwords to any account!
Secure Your Personal Computer
Malware, viruses and malicious software are the primary threat to your home or personal computer. A virus can be transmitted to your computer over the internet or through email and can quickly cause a lot of damage to your files. You should be protecting yourself by using a firewall, which will basically only allow traffic to pass through that meets your predetermined set criteria.
Safeguard Your Personal Info
Be smart with your personal information. Keep details such as your birth date, hometown, phone number, etc. off social media and update your privacy settings to ensure your profiles are appropriately protected. When you do make a purchase online, make sure you are only providing your personal information on sites that use encryption (look for https:// in the URL and the lock symbol)
Review Your Statements
It’s an easy thing to forget, but it is important to check your credit card and bank statements when they arrive each month and report any discrepancies immediately. If you are having trouble remembering to check your statements, sign up for e-statements and most banks and credit card companies will even send you an email when your statement is ready!
Check Your Credit Score
You should be checking your credit at least once per year to ensure there are no inaccuracies on your reports; you can obtain a free copy of your report by contacting Equifax or Transunion. Another option offered by both companies is a monthly service that will allow you to check your score at anytime and automatically alert you of any changes.
Did you know?
You can add Identity Theft coverage to your home, condo or tenant insurance policy? Identity Theft coverage through Buckley Insurance provides up to $25,000 in the event of a loss to cover the following:
• Lost wages
• Notary and filing fees
• Cost of obtaining credit bureau reports
• Phone calls, postage and shipping expenses
• New government-issued ID, if stolen
• 12 months of free credit monitoring
• Loan, Grant and other credit instrument re-application fees