In a previous post, we discussed the difference between identity theft and fraud. Now, we will cover different topics regarding how you can minimize your risk of identity theft. The primary focus involves protecting your personal information in ways that make it more difficult for criminals to carry out illegal activity in your name.
Protecting Your Personal Information to Prevent Identify Theft
Your actions can increase or decrease the likelihood that you will become a victim of identity theft. To help minimize your risk, here are some tips regarding the management of your information during your daily life as well as when managing your finances online.
- Take care when throwing documents away that contain personal information. These items can provide criminals with the details they need to steal your identity. Before disposing of sensitive information, including certain pieces of post, be sure to shred any pages that contain personally identifiable information such as your name, address, phone number, and date of birth.
- Do not provide your personal information to anyone unless you initiate the communication. This includes responding to email, answering phone calls, and any other method by which a person requests your personal information for any reason. Fraudsters often initiate contact with potential targets and may claim to represent a reputable company. This includes contact that appears to be sales oriented as well as unsolicited employment offers. When in doubt, look up the business’s contact information on your own and contact them based on those methods. If the original contact was legitimate, the business would be able to confirm the original information you were provided.
- With many financial transactions taking place online, including purchases and personal banking, it is important to protect your accounts. Make sure you create a new strong password for every account and do not share your password with anyone. Also, change your passwords regularly to protect yourself even further.
- Your computer likely contains a significant amount of personal information. It is important to limit access to your computer. It is recommended that you password protect your computer, as well as any sensitive documents. Do not store passwords on your computer as that can give anyone with access to your computer access to your accounts.
- When using public internet, such as open Wi-Fi in dining establishments and other businesses, limit the amount of personal information you enter when using your own devices as well as public devices. Unsecured Wi-Fi signals can be used to access the information on your device, potentially compromising your personal information, and public devices may be infected with malware or otherwise compromised, giving thieves access to your data.
- When using social media, make sure you limit the amount of personal details that are viewable by the public. Skilled identity thieves can use information from your profiles to piece together enough information to compromise your identity.
It is important to note that even if you take all of the recommended precautions, it is still possible for your identity to be stolen. No system offers complete protection. But, by following the recommendations above, you can limit your risk in situations where you must provide your personal information to another party.