How to Protect Your Identity From Identity Theft

Identity theft is a serious threat that can damage your credit and finances. But there are steps you can take to help reduce your risk of becoming a victim.

You can, for example, check your credit reports, change your passwords often, and shred sensitive documents before throwing them away. Additionally, you can protect your personal information online with a virtual private network (VPN). By doing these things, you can minimize your chances of becoming a victim of ID theft.

Monitor Your Credit Report

Identity theft is when a criminal steals your personal information, including your Social Security number (SSN), to use for credit or loans. It can be devastating to your finances and impact your life in many ways.

One way to protect your identity is to monitor your credit report and score. This will alert you when there are changes to your report that could be the result of identity theft.

You can do this by checking your credit reports at least once a year. You can also sign up for free credit monitoring from some of the major credit bureaus.

Change Your Passwords

One of the best things you can do to protect your identity is to change your passwords. Passwords are the locks that hold your online accounts and personal information safe.

A good password is long, complex, and unique. It should have a mix of capital letters, small letters, and special characters like asterisks.

Shred Documents

If you haven’t already, shred any papers with personal information on them before throwing them away. This includes credit card receipts, medical records, canceled checks, tax forms, and other documents with sensitive information that a criminal could use to steal your identity.

Whether you shred them yourself or have them shredded by a professional, this is one of the most important ways to protect your identity. Especially consider using a cross-cut shredder instead of a strip-cut model, as these machines make it much more difficult for criminals to reassemble the paper scraps they collect when they’re destroyed.

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Keep Your Mail Secure

Your mailbox is a treasure trove of valuable information that criminals could use to steal your identity. It includes credit card offers, utility bills, gov-issued IDs, tax returns, and health insurance statements.

Mail theft is the easiest type of identity theft, so be sure to lock your mailbox and retrieve all your mail promptly after delivery.

If you’re going away, have your mail rerouted to the post office until you return. You can also set up a mailbox alarm to notify you if someone takes your mail.

Keep Your Debit Card Safe

While debit cards provide a convenient way to make purchases, they can also be vulnerable to identity theft. If your debit card is stolen and used for fraudulent purchases, you could lose money in your bank account.

There are a few things you can do to protect your debit card and your identity. The most important thing is to report unauthorized transactions immediately.

Avoid Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi hotspots are a convenient way to connect to the internet, but they’re also a major security risk. Criminals can use a compromised router to vacuum up all your personal information and steal your identity.

This can include your email, bank accounts, credit card details, and any other information you’re storing on the web. Avoid using public Wi-Fi unless you know who’s running the network and can trust them.