Identity theft is one of the fastest-growing crimes in America. In 2019 alone, there were 3.2 million reports of identity theft.
Identity theft can damage your credit status, and cost you loads of time and money to restore your name. Luckily, there are things you can do to prevent identity theft from happening in the first place.
If you’re asking yourself, “Has my identity been stolen?”, check out this guide to discover the top ways to protect your identity online.
1. Watch Out for Impersonators
Impersonating authoritative figures is one of the main tactics criminals use to steal your identity. Never give out your personal information via phone, email, mail, or internet unless you’re the one who initiated the contact.
If a company calls you out of the blue and asks for your personal information, don’t respond. If you get a suspicious-sounding message from a legitimate company, look up the company’s customer service number online and call in. They should easily be able to tell you if they sent the request or if someone is trying to hack you.
2. Dispose of Personal Information Safely
To keep your identity safe online, you need to make sure you’re disposing of your personal information in a safe manner. If you’re getting rid of your computer, make sure you first get rid of all of the personal information stored on it.
You can overwrite your entire hard drive with the help of a wipe utility program. Before you get rid of your mobile device, make sure you check the service provider’s website and the owner’s manual to learn how to dispose of your personal information safely. Remove the SIM card, voicemails, contact list, and messages sent and received.
Also, when you receive personal information through the mail, make sure you dispose of it using a document shredder.
3. Choose Passwords Wisely
While long, complex passwords can be a pain to type in and remember, keep in mind that these types of passwords will help keep your online accounts secure.
Also, make sure you’re not using the same password for every site, as this makes it easier for hackers to access your data. If you have trouble memorizing multiple passwords, you can use a password manager to keep them straight.
You can also hire a company to help you manage your passwords and protect your identity. Click this link to learn more.
4. Don’t Overshare On Social Media
While social media is a great tool for keeping your friends and family members up to date on what’s going on in your life, you want to be careful about oversharing information.
If you post too much information about yourself, someone looking to steal your identity may be able to figure out answers to “challenge” questions to unlock your passwords on various sites. Consider limiting your social network connections to a small group of people.
And, never post your address, full name, social security number, phone number, or account numbers on social media.
Has My Identity Been Stolen?: Time to Act
Now that you’ve read this guide, it’s time to put these tips into action. If you’re already asking yourself, “Has my identity been stolen?”, then you may need to look into reporting the crime.