How to Minimize the Potential for Identity Theft
Identity theft can literally happen to anyone. From children and teens to adults and seniors, no one is 100% protected from being scammed. However, there are ways that you can minimize the possibility of being a victim of identity theft. Here are 4 simple tips:
Review Your Credit Report
Pull your credit report from all 3 reporting agencies (Transunion, Equifax, and Experian) at least once per year. Because you can get them all for free through AnnualCreditReport.com, you could always pull one each quarter instead of all 3 once per year. Look for anything out of the ordinary, such as accounts you didn't open or balance increases that seem too high.
You might think that no one will ever dig through garbage, but that's exactly what happens in some identity theft cases. So never throw away anything without shredding it if it has your personal information listed, such as Social Security Number, date of birth, and full accounts numbers.
Don't Click the Link
Be cautious of any and all texts or emails you get if they're trying to get you to click a link - even if it's from a trusted company because scam emails can look legit. If the email creates a sense of urgency, like your account is suspended, call customer service or login to your account to check out the status instead of clicking the link.
Update and Use Strong Passwords
Hackers are really good at what they do. So it's important to avoid using the same password for multiple sites. Create strong passwords with capital letters and special characters. DON'T use any dates of birth, family names, pet names, etc. If you haven't updated your passwords in a while, it's a good idea to do that.
The key is to make it difficult for scammers to get your information.
For more tips visit IdentityTheft.gov.
Author Elaina Johannessen is a Program Director of LSS Financial Counseling.