Note from Hilary: I'm happy to feature expert advice on my blog, especially on ways to protect yourself from identity theft! In this case, I've partnered with Experian, the credit reporting agency, to bring you their best advice to keep yourself, your money and your loved ones safe. Vigilance is key.
By Sandra Bernardo, Consumer Education Manager Experian
The concern of identity theft looms large in today’s fast changing hi-tech world, so it makes sense to arm yourself with ways to protect yourself from identity theft. Sensitive information is continuously at stake of being stolen from a variety of sources – everything from our electronic devices and online accounts to the ongoing epidemic of data breaches affecting millions of people on a regular basis, and beyond.
A recent Experian study revealed consumers are taking steps to protect their physical and digital information, but 33 percent still do not feel confident that they are doing enough to protect their identities. In fact, 73 percent say they are concerned that they could be affected by identity theft in the future, and 90 percent note that people should be more concerned about identity theft.
With October being National Cyber Security Awareness Month there’s no better time to better educate ourselves on identity theft protection.
Here are 6 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft:
- Be Informed – Educate yourself on the many forms of theft that put your identity and credit at risk. Never give out personally identifiable information like a social security number or bank account number over the phone. A legitimate business would never ask for this type of information.
- Protect Your Digital Devices – Set up a password to unlock your phone in the event you lose or have your phone stolen. Enable remote location and wiping software to track your phone if it’s lost or stolen, allowing to wipe all of the data from it
- Monitor your accounts – Be your best advocate by routinely monitoring your accounts as well as your credit information online to ensure no suspicious activity is in play. You can even set up credit monitoring and bank alerts to make this a seamless process for yourself. Products such as Experian CreditWorks is a great option for people looking for comprehensive credit monitoring.
- Site vs. Link – When shopping online, make sure to go directly to a site to shop rather than follow a link from another site. Shop only on websites that protect your information. On the web page where you enter your credit card or other personal information, look for an “s” after http in the web address of that page and a secured padlock (https://). Encryption is a security measure that scrambles data as it travels through the Internet.
- Invest in a shredder –With thieves dumpster diving for personal information, shredders can be used to destroy unneeded personal documents, receipts, pre-approved credit offers, unused or old checks and any other items that include personal information about you and your financial accounts.
- Protect your mail – Leaving outgoing mail in the mailbox for the postman is never a good idea. Thieves can quite easily snatch mail waiting to be picked up, including letters that include checks or other personal information – and since you expect them to disappear, you’ll never be the wiser. Instead take outgoing letters to the post office and purchase a mailbox with a lock for added protection.