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How to Prevent Identity Theft and What to Do if You Have Been Compromised

In today’s world, personal data can be all over. People use it daily to access bank accounts, email, and social media. This data is usually encrypted, but it doesn’t make it 100% safe. Identity thieves sharpen their abilities and can steal data for financial gain. Learning to protect your identity is no longer a plus – it’s a must.

How You Can Prevent Identity Theft

Criminals use your personal information to steal your identity, open new financial accounts, or even make fraudulent medical claims. Solving these issues costs money and requires significant time and effort. That’s why here are some tips to prevent them from happening:

  • Protect your Social Security Number. This is the key to your data. Be aware of whom you are giving it away. It’s recommended not to be carried with you and to securely store it.

  • Check your spam email. People usually ignore emails from banks or return addresses they don’t recognize. However, they may contain information about transactions from their accounts made by someone else.

  • Think about getting a credit monitoring service. These systems will monitor the internet looking for misuse of your data. Some of them are LifeLock and Zander.

  • Have different passwords for your accounts. Use a password manager to keep all your accounts and their passwords safe. According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, passwords should be at least 15 characters long, so it’s more difficult for a computer program or hacker to crack.

It’s already happening. What to do?

If you notice some transactions or credit requests you didn’t make but are under your name, your identity has probably been robbed.

Once you see it, don’t wait to notify the company where this has occurred. When your bank account is taken over, thieves may not have complete access to your personal information, so it’ll be almost as simple as getting your bank to shut your account down.

If someone is impersonating you by using your SSN, notify the IRS. The same goes for your health insurance company when someone uses your name or policy number. You can also place an alert on your credit reports. This will notify a creditor to look closer at the person applying to ensure it’s you.

You must file a report with the Federal Trade Commission, which compiles information about identity theft cases. Visit their website, and you’ll receive a recovery plan and some help to file police reports and information about disputing fraudulent charges.

Remember that today’s context puts everyone’s data very vulnerable. If you have children, remember their identity can be stolen, so keep their names and SSNs safe. Get all the protection you can on your information, credits and passwords.

Written by Geraldine Orentas


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