How To Keep Your Identity From The Wrong Hands
Every year the world’s technological advances continue to grow and with it, so do the dangers that many Americans become susceptible to without even knowing. One of the most common dangers today is identity theft – in the past year alone there was a 68 percent increase in data compromises in the US.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft is best defined as the illegal use of someone else’s personal information (name, address, telephone number, email address, social security number, etc.) for the main purpose to obtain money or credit. Financial identity theft is the most common form of identity theft today, and we must learn ways to prevent ourselves from falling victims to it.
Ways to Prevent Identity Theft
There are many different ways someone can fall victim to identity theft. Among those, the four most common are financial identity theft, medical identity theft, criminal identity theft, and child identity theft. Due to the various ways one can get their identity stolen, we must be vigilant and careful with our information, and the best way to do that is to learn how to prevent it.
- Secure Your Information
Our personal information is something that identifies us from birth. When someone is born they are given their identity in the form of their social security number. This nine-digit number as you become employed helps identify and accurately record your covered wages or self-employment earnings and every employer requires it. The best way to secure your social security from being stolen is to guard it the best you can:
- Keep it in a safe place at home.
- Do not carry it around.
- Dispose of any papers with your social security number properly – always shred!
- If you are asked for your social security number, verify the reason it is being. asked for and how it will be protected.
- Be Alert
Identity theft can happen to anyone at any age; scammers are looking for someone to fall victim to daily. Common tactics scammers use today are phone calls stating that your identity was breached under government entities and emails that seem ‘legitimate’ trying to get you to share your information, they are under the guise of a well-known entity. There are ways to help you prevent this;
- Many phone companies today will say ”Scam”, likely on the Caller ID, to help you identify possible scammers.
- Educate yourself on what companies can ask for, an example would be that you should not give your social security number over the phone. The IRS does not contact you by phone, email, or social media to acquire your information, personal or financial.
- When getting emails, be careful with how they look, look out for the latest phishing attacks and trends in cybercrime.
- Monitor Your Information
At times, our personal belongings become lost which can leave us vulnerable to identity theft, so if belongings are stolen here are some important things to do.
- Lock your credit cards, mobile bank accounts.
- Freeze your credit file, you can contact the top three credit reporting agencies: TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax so that this can be done. This will not let anyone request your credit report and the only way it can be taken off is with a pin that you will be provided with.
- Review your statements, make sure you are always looking through your credit and bank statements, sometimes scammers will make small charges to see that they can get away with them.
- Dispose of anything with identification correctly, such as your mail, utility bills, statements, healthcare forms, etc. ALWAYS SHRED!
- Secure passwords and two-factor authentication on devices are everything. Make sure your passwords are unique and complex for your accounts, passwords that are long and complex help you stay safe. On top of this also add two-factor authentication to help you stay secure.
Employers’ Responsibility For Your Identity
Employers are among the only few that may ask and acquire you for your identity, the most common ways they do this is by having employees bring their social security card and a form of identification (an example would be a license), employers specifically use your identity to verify it is you and so that they may avoid harm or any legal liability. Employers have a responsibility to protect their employees’ information from thieves that may exist inside and outside of the business, this can be done in various ways by employers.
- Employers run background checks to make sure that the possible employees are not a harm to the company or the employees, they look for any past workplace problems sexual harassment, and sexual assault is very important for employers to avoid.
- Employers run identity checks to cross-reference the applicants’ information that was submitted by them and databases such as the TransUnion Identity Check databases.
Now, What’s Next
Next time you are out enjoying your day, make sure your information is secured by locking your phone so that no one can get into it, passwords are long and complex on your accounts, and you keep any identification cards in your sight. Remember if you cannot find it, you take the necessary precautions so that your information does not land in the wrong hands.