Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes and thousands of people are falling prey to it every year. ID thieves use a person’s personal information like name, address, credit card number, and driver’s license number, etc. to obtain a credit card or loan in the victim’s name. Despite the security measures taken by tech companies, today hackers can sneak into almost every device to get their hands on personal information and use it to their advantage.
Some people don’t even realize that they have become victims of identity theft until they are rejected for loans because their names entered the loan defaulter’s list. Identity theft victims have a hard time to get their credit report rectified and restore their good credit. Here we outline 5 steps that you can take to avoid falling prey to such a situation.
Beware of phishing scams Do not give out your personal information to any stranger who contacts you through phone or email. Many times you may receive an email asking you to verify your password, account information, or credit card numbers or click on certain links to avoid your account from getting locked. Do not click on any such links in emails. Remember legitimate financial institutions will not ask for such information over email. ID thieves pose as bank representatives to obtain information to access your accounts. Winning the lottery, receiving low loan interest rates on refinancing are other scams that ask for your personal information. These must surely be avoided. Before you enter any personal data while surfing makes sure that you are on a secure and legitimate website.
Monitor your credit reports A regular check of your credit report is a must for timely identification of any fraudulent activity on your accounts. Though you get one free credit report every year, it is advised to check your report more often. If you leave too much time to pass before you check your report again, you may fall prey to identity thefts during that time. Check your report for unfamiliar accounts, credit inquiries, or defaults and delinquencies that you do not recognize. If you think that you are at greater risk, you may even sign up for identity theft protection services. By doing so, all your credit reports will be checked periodically, to notify you of any major change that takes place on your report. The sooner you detect any fraud the easier it will be to repair the damage. If there is any inaccurate information the service provider will also assist in getting the errors removed.
Verify account statements regularly You must make it a habit to verify the statements that you receive for all your bank accounts, loan accounts, and credit cards. Instead of just keeping it aside and forgetting about it each month, verify each and every transaction. Make sure that you recognize the transactions recorded. Any unfamiliar entry signals the possibility of potential fraud. Report such issues to the bureau immediately. Do not give hackers an opportunity to misuse your identity.
Adopt security measures Shop only at reputed and trusted websites. Before entering any credit card information, make sure that you are using a secure website. The URL for secure websites begins with HTTPS, which means that the data you submit will be encrypted and only the intended recipient can read it. Use strong passwords for banking transactions and other financial accounts. Don’t use PIN numbers that are easy to guess.
Change your passwords and PINs regularly. Never share them with anyone. Avoid using the same passwords for multiple accounts. Protect your devices by using the latest antivirus software, anti-spyware program, and firewalls. Do not store sensitive private information on your laptops. Shred documents with personal information before dumping them in the garbage. There isn’t any guarantee that one will never fall prey to identity theft frauds. So take the precautionary measures outlined above and save yourself from such hassles.