Seven Steps to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft This Year

January 30, 2015

identity theft New Year’s resolutions can cover everything from health goals and lifestyle changes to travel and finance goals. With so many cases of identity theft and fraud being reported around the country, one of your resolutions for 2015 should be to protect yourself. The pros at IdentityProtection.com offer seven tips to ensure you’re protected in the recent article “Seven Identity Theft Resolutions for the New Year.”

  1. The best way to protect yourself from being a victim of tax identity theft is to file your taxes early. Employers must have all W2s mailed no later than Jan. 31, and the IRS has already begun accepting 2014 tax returns. Identity thieves can use your personal information to file a fraudulent tax return in your name. However, if you file your taxes before they do, their attempt will be thwarted as you can only file once per social security number.
  2. For every account you have, particularly those related to finances, your email, medical records or other sensitive information, create a unique password. A survey from security technology company McAfee found that 37 percent of people use the same password for multiple online accounts. Creating unique, complex passwords with number, character and letter variations will help to thwart potential hackers. In addition, if you need help tracking your various passwords, be sure that you don’t write them down or record them anywhere. Instead, use a secure password manager that stores and encrypts your data.
  3. Instead of tossing old bank statements, bills, and other pieces of sensitive information into the trash, shred them. Experts recommend purchasing a cross-cut shredder to keep at home to destroy all of your personal documents. Or, you can search for local shredding events in your area that allows residents to bring large quantities of documents to shred.
  4. Limiting the information you share online, particularly on social media, can help protect you from identity theft. Review your online profiles and make sure that you don’t include every bit of information, such as your full name, birth date, place of employment and hometown. Compiled together, this is enough information for thieves to begin stealing your identity.
  5. Consider purchasing an identity theft protection product, especially if you have previously been a victim of identity theft. The standard products typically offer services that monitor your credit report or search the internet to determine if your personal information is for sale.
  6. Many websites have begun using two-step verification to protect user’s identities. This means that when you log in to a website, you’re instructed to enter both a password and a second unique identifier. This helps to prevent hackers from logging into your personal accounts and stealing your information, so ensure that the websites you’re using offer this additional step.
  7. Finally, make sure the security software on the computers you use is up-to-date. These include anti-malware, anti-virus and anti-spamware products. If your computer is not properly protected, identity thieves can potentially gain access to virtually all of your personal information.

To learn more about how to protect yourself from potential identity theft threats, visit the Identity Protection site for more tips, information and services.

Categories: Education

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Courtney Rogers

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