Identity theft is not a new problem. In fact, it has been around for decades, but with growing technology and more sophisticated measures being taken by hackers, it is now a more extensive problem in the U.S. Did you know that one out of 15 people in the U.S. has fallen victim to identity theft? While this statistic is alarming, so are the high-tech methods that identity thieves use to gain access to your personal information. In an effort to remain safe, do you know how to protect your identity from being stolen?
A Risk Not Worth Taking
Your life is busy and while you may be running a hectic schedule day to day, you need to take a moment to protect your privacy and data. Statistics show that 92% of adults have been careless and risked their identify at least once in the last year. Some risks simply are not worth taking. One careless act can lead to a huge financial disaster, along with an emotional one. Ask yourself if you have done any of the following acts in the last year? If the answer is “yes”, then you may be letting down your guard and putting your personal information and data out there for hackers to steal your identity.
- While online shopping, have you visited any unsecured websites?
- Do you share too much information on social media? (vacations, date of birth, pets’ names, etc.)
- Do you ever use public WIFI?
- Have you thrown away credit card offers and financial statements without shredding them?
If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, you may have unknowingly provided identity thieves with information that can be used to create new accounts in your name or even take over existing ones.
Some Common Tips to Protect Your Identity
Sometimes life situations happen all too quickly and without putting too much thought into it, you may risk data security in exchange for convenience. Take the time to protect your identity and avoid some common situations that could otherwise hijack it. Below are some basic DO’s and DONT’S to consider in an effort to safeguard what is YOURS:
- DON’T ever give personal information over the phone to anyone. (ex: social security number, banking account numbers, driver’s license number or PIN numbers)
- DON’T ever use public WIFI. Although it may be convenient and could save you time, it’s not worth having your personal information stolen by someone “seemingly” in the public place just to have coffee. Imagine if you accessed your online banking account while waiting on a friend to show up for coffee. You have just made public your bank account information to “would be” identity thieves.
- DO shred all personal and financial statements, to include credit card applications, before throwing them in the trash. If you simply throw the information away, someone could open up accounts in your name or take over your existing accounts.
- DON’T overshare on social media. Posting pictures that you are away on vacation could mean someone could break into your home and steal personal information. Posting information revealing your date of birth or a pet’s name could result in a hacker figuring out your passwords.
- DO have different passwords for every account. Two out of three adults admit to reusing passwords.
- DON’T forget to retrieve your bank receipt when using an ATM.
- DO make sure, when online shopping, that the site is secure. “Http” means the site is unsecured and could make you a target for identity theft.
- DON’T become a statistic! Take the time to protect yourself, your identity, your family, and financial well-being.
Discuss the Risks of Identity Theft with Your Entire Family, Especially Children
Talking with your family, including children, about safe online behavior can help avoid or reduce the likelihood you will become the next victim of fraud. Sometimes children can be vulnerable and naïve about providing information that should not be revealed to people. Experts have concluded that children may be more apt to share private information if they are being bullied or even for acceptance. Keep everyone in the know about any red flags. Keep in mind that while life gets busy, never sacrifice your personal identity in exchange for convenience.
If you have any questions or concerns about identity theft, contact us at Twin City Insurance and we will assist you with all your concerns. Don’t wait! Call us TODAY!