The average individual that falls prey to identify theft spends no more than 600 hours clearing their identity. This includes getting all the necessary reports, proving that their identity has been hijacked, figuring out how they’ve been compromised, and working on how to reclaim their identity. When it comes to recovering from such crimes, there is a lot of time that goes into it.
The sad reality is that it’s not possible to protect yourself 100% from identity theft. However, it is possible for you to implement measures that make it difficult for someone to steal your personal information.
1. Monitor Your Accounts Online
If you’re with a bank that allows you to view your account online, then you’re going to want to sign up to it. Log into your account and check things periodically, that way you will be able to determine whether or not there have been any unauthorised charges made to your account. You can keep your login information safe by not telling anyone and not writing it down anywhere.
2. Carry Minimal Personal Information
You don’t want to be carrying extra credit cards, birth certificates, social security cards or passports in your purse or wallet, unless you actually need to. For precautionary measures, you may want to consider having a copy of your bank statements and credit cards. This information should be stored in a safe location, along with any numbers for fraud protection support, so that you can easily notify them in the event that something bad happens.
3. Install a Firewall
Firewall programs were designed to protect your computer from hackers obtaining your confidential information, such as financial data off your hard drive. Additionally, in the event that you are selling your hard drive, you always want to use the wipe feature. Never rely solely on the delete feature, because deleted information can still be recovered.
4. Encrypt Your IM and Email Messages
If you aren’t using end-to-end encryption, then all of your instant messages or emails are at risk of being hijacked. With encryption, only the sender or receive is able to read the information. You can also combine this with a password lock, which should ensure that no one else will be able to access the data.
5. Use Photo ID Verification
Instead of writing on the back of your credit cards, you can choose to use Photo ID. In the vast majority of cases, store owners will not look at the signature at the back of the card, additionally, these thieves could just as easily use your credit card over the telephone or on the internet, which doesn’t require any verification, but in those rare situations were signature verification is required, you could add an additional layer of security by directing them to match your picture with the photo ID.
6. Don’t Use Pre-Approved Credit Cards
All of these pre-approved credit card offers hold your personal information on them. Thieves will typically use these offers in order to obtain information on their potential victims. You want to shred your credit card before you throw it away. Or just do the needful by opting out altogether.
7. Pay Bills Online
Many of these identity thieves use checks in order to steal your identity. It’s also possible for them to steal these checks directly from your mailbox, when mailed to you. However, many banks today now offer online bill pay. If you really want to sure up your security, then you want to pay your bills directly from the internet.
8. Remember Your Pin Numbers
When you’re creating your personal identification numbers (PINs) or passwords, you want to stay away from using the last couple of digits from your social security number, mother’s maiden name, birthday or anything else that someone could easily use to discover your password. You also do not want to write them down; you want to hide them away inside your memory.
9. Watch Out for Shoulder Surfers
When entering your credit card number or PIN number into a cash machine, whether on a work computer or phone booth, you want to ensure that there’s no one watching you, peeping over your shoulder to make note of the numbers that you pressed. For identification you may want to use a fingerprint scanner and/or turn on facial recognition, if the device you’re using supports it.
10. Shred Your Data
Any documents that may contain personal information should be shredded or ripped into pieces. This includes credit reports, bank statements, charge receipts, credit card offers, check statements and much more.[alert-success]READ ALSO: A close look at “Cloud Communication Security”[/alert-success]