Identity theft is a quickly growing threat in the U.S., especially with the advancement in use of the Internet and social networking sites. Identity theft occurs when an impostor steals personal information from you and uses it for their benefit. It can take place in many different ways, and it’s important to know how to prevent identity theft from happening to you. Here are several of the most common ways that your identity can be stolen, provided by IDtheftcenter.org , and how to prevent them.
Financial ID Theft
This can occur when your credit cards, debit cards, or checks are stolen. If this happens, contact the bank immediately and close your account. When opening a new one, put passwords on the account. Passwords should be something only you can remember. They should be at least 8 characters long and contain both capital and lowercase letters and at least one non-alphabetical character.
In order to prevent financial ID theft, keep all cards and IDs together in a place where they are not easily visible. When at school, never leave a wallet unattended.
Smart Phone Security
The use of smartphones for daily activities is convenient, but how much does your phone really know about you? When you email, bank, shop, and use social networks on your mobile device, all of the information you use is stored on that device. In order to secure your smartphone, start by installing a passcode. Many universities require phones to have passcodes in order to use their Wi-Fi servers. Another way to protect your phone is to keep up with software updates—these can help fix bugs that compromise security on the device. A final note: don’t allow your device to remember passwords, because if it is stolen the thief automatically has all of your information.
Medical ID Theft
Another type of identity theft financial medical theft, where someone is receiving medical help using your name. In this case, contact the billing department of the medical facility and find out the details, then fill out a police report. It’s important to keep your social security number extremely private, and to not post it online anywhere that you aren’t positive is a valid website.
Social Networking and Identity Theft
You should be careful with sites that allow you to put your personal information for the world to see. Sites like Facebook, Twitter, or personal blogs allow you to display your address, phone number, school, age, and more. Ways to prevent identity theft on these sites include updating your privacy settings to exclude people you don’t know from accessing your information, declining invitations from people you’ve never spoken to, updating security software on your computer, and avoiding clicking on scam links. As a general rule for social networking sites, provide the least amount of information you can, and be wise about what you post and who can see it.
If you are concerned about Identity Theft, consider Identity Theft Protection, to help you monitor and protect your identity. For more information about Identity theft and how to prevent it, visit IDTheftCenter.org or call 1-888-400-5530 to speak to a victim advisor.
“Working to Resolve Identity Theft.” Identity Theft Resource Center. N.p., n.d. Web. 25 Mar 2013. <http://www.idtheftcenter.org/index.html>.