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Thousands of adults fall victim to identity theft each year. It can be easy for someone to get your confidential information.
All they need is a piece of mail with your National Insurance number on it and they’re in. Sometimes they don’t even need to get that much. The good news is that it’s just as easy to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft.
You’d be surprised at what a strong password or a paper shredder can do to keep unwanted eyes away from your information. Check out this guide for an entire list of ways to keep yourself safe.
The first rule of identity theft prevention is to put a password on everything. This includes your laptop, tablet, smartphone, and all financial accounts.
If you don't use a strong password, you're pretty much asking a fraudster to slip in and steal your information. Sometimes, they don't even have to try that hard.
Imagine that you're a freelancer who decided to change things up and work at a coffee shop for the day. You take out your computer to work while you wait for your order to be called. Since it's not password protected, all it takes is for someone to tap the mouse pad to wake up your computer and steal your information while you go to the counter to get your coffee.
Another rule for passwords is that it's a bad idea to use the same one for every single device and account that you have. The more hoops that a hacker has to jump through to get access to all of your accounts, the better.
Mix things up by using a different password for everything. If your memorization skills aren't the best, write all your passwords down and keep the information hidden somewhere safe.
As a general rule of thumb, if someone can guess your passwords from looking at your social media page, you need more secure passwords. Don't use your name or birthday. The second you suspect that someone has broken into one of your accounts, change your password.
Fraudsters can be pretty crafty. Every now and again they'll send you an email that looks like it's from somewhere official, like your bank. Most of the time, these emails prompt you to click on a website link. Avoid doing this if the email seems even the least bit fishy.
Sometimes these links will send you to a login screen. If it doesn't look like the screen you usually see when you log into your online banking site, don't put in your information.
Sometimes, fraudsters will call you and pretend to be a representative from your credit card company. An important thing to keep in mind is that nowhere official is going to ask you for your social security number or credit card PIN.
If the "representative" on the phone requests this information, ask for the person's credentials. They'll either make something up or not respond. Hang up with them and call the actual organization that caller claimed to be from to tell them about the situation.
People will go into your mailbox and steal your mail. There could be valuable information in there that they could use to steal your identity. That's why if you're going on vacation you should ask a friend to pick up your mail for you.
You should also invest in a paper shredder. Even the most insignificant piece of mail could hold information that a scammer can use to take your identity. Shred all credit card statements after you look at them as well as any credit card solicitations.
It's okay to carry one or two credit cards with you but don't keep every single one you own in your wallet. If it gets stolen, the thief now has access to all of your accounts.
Never carry your National Insurance number around in your pocket either. In other words, keep the things that you put in your wallet to an absolute minimum.
Let's go back to the working in a coffee shop example we used before. You sign into their public WiFi. It's password-protected so you don't think anything of it.
You may have given your information to a hacker. You see, even if a company's WiFi asks for a password, that doesn't mean it's secure.
If you tend to use public WiFi often, make sure your computer is armed with a password and the latest antivirus software. You should also consider getting a VPN.
There are companies out there who will monitor your identity for you. The second something fishy happens, you'll get an alert to let you know about.
You can then hire an identity theft lawyer and get the situation handled before things get out of control. Keep in mind that these companies make a great second line of defence.
They are not a replacement for the other protection methods on this list. You should still be creating secure passwords and watching who you give your personal information to.
Thousands of people have their identity stolen every year. The good thing is that as long as you take strides to learn how to protect yourself from identity theft, you should be fine.
Most identity theft prevention is common sense such as creating secure passwords, setting up fraud alerts, and not giving out your personal information.
Still, sometimes things happen even if you're careful. We'll be here the second it happens with fraud alerts. Go here to check out pricing for our services.