7 Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

May 25, 2018

Every two seconds an American becomes a victim of identity theft. If the thought of having to clean up your credit report because someone stole your identity frightens you, and you don't want to become another statistic; here are some tips to stack the odds in your favor.

1. A winning night, can turn into a nightmare really fast if your wallet is lost, or stolen, especially if personal information like your social security card is in there. Do not carry your social security card in your wallet. And, just as importantly make copies of all of your cards. That way, if they are stolen you can report it fast, and accurately.

2. You can bet that if you use easy to guess passwords and PINs - like your house number, or birth date - some hacker can easily figure it out. Use a mix of symbols, numbers, upper and lower case letters.

3. Use your instincts. If an overly generic e-mail address doesn't look legit, don't reply, and don't click on any of the links. Go to your account log-ins manually; using a bookmark or typing the URL.

4. Know that your credit union will never call, or e-mail you asking for your social security number, or birth date. If a business, or individual asks for personal information, passwords, or credit card numbers - do not give them. Instead call any financial institution requesting information directly at a number you know is legitimate.

5. Make sure all of your electronic devices are as secure as possible by updating your operating systems, software, and browsers; being up to date will minimize your chances of being hacked. Password protect all of your devices, so that if stolen, logging in will be more difficult. 

6. Shred! Yes, some of the easiest targets for identity thieves are home trash cans. Shred invoices, financial statements, and any other personal documents. Don't just toss them, shred them.

7. Check your online banking accounts and credit reports regularly. There are three credit-reporting bureaus, a trifecta for analyzing your activity, if you see anything suspicious, report it.

Following these steps can drastically reduce your odds of becoming a victim of identity theft.