It’s National Protect Your Identity Week! To celebrate, we’ve tapped the Identity Theft Resource Center to pen a blog about things you can do today to protect yourself from identity theft.
By Gabby Beltran, Identity Theft Resource Center
When it comes to protecting your identity, often times it translates to being proactive. Taking the initiative to look after your personal identifying information is undeniably the best thing you can do. There are areas that are out of your control, but for those areas where you are primarily responsible – keep the following in mind.
• Secure your information – Do not carry your Social Security card in your wallet and try to minimize items that bear personal identifying information. The only exception to this rule should be if you will be providing such information, for example, to a new employer. Other than that, there is no reason why your Social Security card should be traveling with you. In addition, do not leave your wallet or purse in your vehicle. The last thing you want is to be carrying items with personal identifying information and leaving them in your car, only to have your window shattered and your purse stolen. This also applies to children’s Social Security cards – if a child’s Social Security number is compromised, the child will forever be exposed to identity theft.
• Online shopping – If you will be making purchases online, make sure you are visiting secure websites. Make sure that the sites where you are making financial transactions begin with https:// – which means it is a secure site. In addition, if you will be performing transactions on your Smartphone or any other mobile device, be weary of your surroundings; be weary of wondering eyes. Do not use public Wi-Fi to complete these transactions. When using public Wi-Fi others may be privy to the information you’ve just submitted. If you will be using a mobile device, make sure to use your Network’s 3G or 4G service.
• Don’t fall victim to phishing – If you receive any unsolicited emails, phone calls, or text messages from ‘alleged’ legitimate financial institutions requesting an update in your personal information, do not release any personal information. More likely than not, it will be a scam. It is an attempt to trick consumers into providing personal and financial information to criminals. Furthermore, these attempts at personal information are characterized by installing viruses on computers and mobile devices by clicking on links that are provided in emails and text messages. This translates as another way of gaining access to the information stored in your mobile device or computer.
• Be careful about what you post online – Social networking sites have revolutionized the way we communicate. Often times, we tend to share more information on these sites than what is really required. It is important to remember that what we post online will remain online. In addition, whatever we share over the internet is available for others to see. Keep in mind that personal information should be kept private. As a recommendation, do not share your address, telephone number, or information that may be considered personal information. Also, be selective with your friends. Do not add ‘friends’ you do not know because your business becomes everyone’s business.
• Review your credit reports – Every year consumers are entitled to a free copy of each of the three credit reports from the Credit Reporting Agencies: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. These reports are available through www.annualcreditreport.com or by calling 877-322-8228. Consumers can also obtain their credit reports by visiting each of the Credit Reporting Agencies’ websites. It is important that you review your credit reports and check for any discrepancies. Members of ProtectMyID also have the peace of mind knowing that their credit report is being reviewed for key changes on a daily basis.