In the past 7 years, over 107 billion dollars has been stolen from Americans through identity theft. In 2016 alone, 16 billion dollars were reported stolen as a result of identity theft. In a cyber world, as technology gets smarter so do the criminals that infiltrate it. Armed with sneaky computer viruses, credit card skimmers, and scammy pop-ups, phone calls, and emails there is suspicion lurking around every corner. Here are 6 ways to help avoid becoming part of this 107 billion dollar statistic by preventing an identity theft.
- Protect Personal Information. Never share your social security number online or over the phone. It is important to not share your pin number with anyone, even those you trust.
- Shred It. If you receive mail or statements with personal information, shred them before recycling them to ensure your information stays safe.
- Utilize Online Banking. Most banks have some sort of mobile application which allows you to check balances, make deposits, or transfer funds on the go. They also allow email or text message alerts that can notify the account holder if they incur a transaction more than X amount of dollars or if an account drops below a certain pre-designated amount.
- Monitor Credit Reports. Everyone can receive a free copy of their credit report from one of three credit reporting agencies. Space these out correctly, and you can receive a report once every four months to make sure there are no surprises.
- Protect Devices. Never access the internet without first acquiring virus protection software. Check the URL of a website before entering any information. Look for an “S” after “Http” to be sure that the site is secure. Cell phones should always have a passcode in case they are ever lost. If you choose to sell or trade your phone, make sure to completely wipe all of the information stored within the phone’s internal memory.
- Report It. Report suspicious activity to your bank immediately.