10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft

Posted  May 02, 2017  by  Shred-it

If it seems like identity theft is all over the news, that's because it is. Fraudsters are targeting individuals and businesses in record numbers, and that makes it important for everyone to know how to prevent identity theft.   

Consider that a report by Risk Based Security showed 4.2 billion confidential records were exposed in 2016 in 4,149 confirmed breaches - compared to just 1 billion in 2013.

Identity theft is the collection of someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes. Identity fraud is the actual impersonation and misuse of debit or credit card data and other information. The best way to protect yourself is to make it more difficult for fraudsters.

Here are 10 ways to prevent identity theft:

Tidy up. A Clean Desk Policy at work and home stipulates that confidential information is not left out in the open for anyone to steal. Sort documents, and keep them safe and locked away.  

Carry less ID. Individuals should carry only the identification and cards that are needed. Thieves are most interested in Social Security cards and credit cards. But any ID helps create a profile. 

Protect electronics. Use firewalls, spyware, and other cyber security on all devices. Keep software and systems up-to-date and patched.

Be smart on social media. According to the Identity Fraud Study, ‘social networkers’ have a 46% higher risk of account takeover fraud because of all the personal information they share on digital platforms. Avoid posting confidential information, set security settings, and never accept unknown friend requests. 

Keep track of financial accounts. Keep an eye on bank and other accounts for unauthorized changes, charges, or withdrawals. If possible, sign up for account alerts. The Identity Fraud Study showed that consumers who have little online presence take a lot longer (more than 40 days) to detect fraud and incur higher fraud amounts.

Protect PINs and passwords. When making transactions at ATMs, cash registers and on portable devices, be sure others aren’t watching. Conduct all sensitive transactions on secure networks. 

Don’t get phished. Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information by phone, mail or online. It could be a phishing scam – and linking or opening an attachment might download a virus.    

Be a smart online shopper. E-commerce shoppers in the study had the highest prevalence of fraud (although they caught it quickly too). Enable two-factor authentication, create strong passwords, and use a secure network.

Avoid dumpster divers. All paper documents that are no longer needed should be securely shredded and then recycled by a trustworthy document destruction company.  

Don’t recycle hard drives. Don’t stockpile legacy computers or mobile devices. They should also be securely destroyed by a document destruction company.

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To learn more about how Shred-it can protect your documents and hard drives, please contact us to get a free quote and security risk assessment.

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