Identity Theft: What It Is, How to Prevent It, Warning Signs and Tips
Apr 14, · How to Prevent Identity Theft. 1. Freeze your credit. When you freeze your credit file, no one can look at or request your credit report. Therefore, no one (including you) can open 2. Collect mail daily. Some of the ways that criminals can steal your identity are decidedly low-tech. For example. Jan 23, · Take the following steps to protect your identity as stored on your computer: Use a firewall and secure browser. Don't download files from strangers. Maintain current virus protection.
Jump to content. Identity theft is a serious crime. Identity theft happens when someone uses information about you without your permission. They could use your:. You will be responsible for what the thief does while using your personal information. You might have to pay for what the thief buys. This is true even if you do not know about the bills. A thief can get your personal information in person or online.
A thief might:. Do you think someone stole your identity? If you do, tjeft more about recovering from identity theft. All the information in the credit report should be about you.
Get a copy of your credit report. Make sure you recognize the information in it. If you do not, you need to try to fix it. Learn more about your credit history, including how to get your free credit report. Your credit report might show that an identity thief rpevent using your personal information. You know the information is not true. But no one else looking at the report how to make a website secure from hackers, unless you tell them.
Businesses look at your credit report. A business uses your credit report to decide whether it wants to deal with you. Identity theft can make it hard for you to get credit, a job, a place to live, or utilities.
But you can reduce your risk of being hurt by identity theft. Protect your personal information. That helps you protect your identity. Here are some things you can how to find your friends phone numbers on facebook 2012. Look at medical statements.
You might see charges you do not recognize. That might mean someone stole your identity. Get your credit report. You get one free credit report every year from each credit reporting company. Read your what causes stinging sensation on skin report carefully. Look for mistakes or accounts you do not recognize. This could mean someone stole your identity. Avoiding Identity Theft. Print Text size Listen icon.
What is identity theft? They could use your: name and address credit card or bank what season is sons of anarchy in numbers Social Security thett medical insurance account numbers Why should I care if someone steals my identity?
How can that happen? A thief might get a credit card using your name. He changes the address. The bills go to him, but he never pays them. That means the credit card company thinks you prvent not paying the bills. That will hurt your credit. This is the kind of trouble identity theft can cause for you. For Example. What To Know. How can a thief steal my identity? Frm thief might: steal your mail or garbage to get your account numbers or your Social Security number trick you into sending personal information in an email steal your account numbers from a business or medical office steal your wallet or purse to get your personal information How do I know if someone steals my identity?
Sometimes, you can tell if someone steals your identity. Read your bills. Do you see charges for preven you did not buy? Watch your bank account statement. Are there withdrawals you did not make? Are there changes you do not expect? Check your mail. Did you stop getting a bill? Or did you start getting a new bill you do not know about? Are there accounts or other information you do not recognize?
If you answer yes to any of these questions, someone might have stolen your idsntity. What is a credit report? Your credit report is a summary ot your credit history. It lists: your name, address, and Social Security number your credit cards your loans how much money you owe if you pay your bills on time or late All the information in the credit report should be about you.
Why should I try to fix my credit report? You can lower your risk. Every time you shop in a store, you: watch your wallet are careful with your credit card or debit card do not tell people your PIN number When you shop online, you can: use passwords that people cannot guess shop on secure websites.
What To Do. How can I protect my identity? Here are some things you can do: At home: keep your financial records, Social Security and How to dye salt and pepper hair white cards in a safe place shred papers that have your personal or medical information take mail out of your mailbox as soon as you can As you do business: only give your Social Security number if you must.
Ask if you can use another kind of identification do not give your personal information to someone who calls you or emails you On the computer: use passwords that are not easy to guess. Use numbers and symbols when you can do not respond to emails or other messages that ask for personal information do not put personal information on a computer in a public place, like the library How will I know if someone steals my identity?
Read your bills and account statements. Watch for: things you did not buy withdrawals you did not make a change of your address that you did not expect bills that stop coming Look at medical statements.
To order: Call Annual Credit Report at Answer questions from a recorded system. You have to give your address, Social Security number, and birth date. Choose preevent only show the last four numbers of your Social Security number. It is safer than showing the full number on your report. Choose which credit reporting company you want a report from.
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Identity theft can make it hard for you to get credit, a job, a place to live, or utilities. But you can reduce your risk of being hurt by identity theft. How can I protect my identity? Protect your personal information. That helps you protect your identity. Here are some things you can do: At home. Mar 23, · Install firewalls and virus-detection software Virus Detection Software: (antivirus software) a computer program used to prevent, detect, and remove malicious programs that have been placed on your computer to spy on you or to do damage to your computer. on your home computer. Create complex passwords that identity thieves cannot guess. Indeed, checking all three credit reports is a great idea if you’re wondering how to prevent identity theft. Close new accounts opened in your name. You may need to provide the identity theft report that you created with the FTC. You will also want to remove any fraudulent charges from your own accounts by contacting the businesses affected.
Last Updated: October 8, References. This article was co-authored by our trained team of editors and researchers who validated it for accuracy and comprehensiveness. There are 29 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page.
This article has been viewed , times. Learn more More than 13,, people were victims of identity theft in in the United States alone. By securing your data at home, online, and when you're out and about, you can eliminate many opportunities for identity theft to occur. Additionally, use a different password for everything you do, so even if one is comprised, the others will still be safe.
At home, set up your Wi-Fi network with a password and change it frequently, since hackers can easily access open wireless networks. For tips on how to protect documents that contain personal information from identity theft, read on! Did this summary help you? Yes No. Log in Social login does not work in incognito and private browsers. Please log in with your username or email to continue. No account yet?
You also might try online programs, available for free, that provide virtually unbreakable randomly generated passwords. Make sure all passwords you use include both lower-case and capital letters, numbers, and other characters such as hyphens or asterisks.
Avoid using the same password for multiple accounts. Each of your passwords should be unique so that if one of them is compromised, the thief does not have access to anything else.
Keep passwords and PINs safe. Never store passwords or sensitive information unencrypted on your computer. If you have a physical "cheat sheet" of log-in information, keep it locked up. You also can store them on an external hard drive that is only attached to your computer for offline backups. Avoid using autofill, particularly for banking or credit card websites, unless your computer is secure or never leaves your house.
Turn on two-factor authentication. Many email services and popular social media platforms allow you to log on using two-factor authentication, or 2FA. This enhanced security protocol adds an extra step to confirm your identity even after you enter your username and password. Once you enter the code, you'll be able to access your account on the site. With 2FA, a hacker would not be able to access your account, even if they gained your username and password.
Regardless of whether you enable 2FA or not, make sure you completely log out of any service you're not using — don't just close the window or tab on your browser. Create log-in passwords for all your devices. Whether you plan to take a device outside your home, all should have log-in passwords so the information cannot be accessed in the event someone gets ahold of the device. Change your log-in passwords on a regular basis, and don't write them down anywhere near your computer.
For example, don't write the log-in password on a sticky note affixed to your computer case. Protect your computer. Identity thieves use complex software such as spyware and key loggers to obtain sensitive information. A strong and regularly updated firewall, anti-virus program and anti-spyware program will provide most of the protection you need.
If you're not sure what is best for your computer, contact your local computer retailer for advice. Beware of phishing scams. You may receive a seemingly harmless email asking you to verify certain things such as your password, account number, or personal identification information.
Any email seeking this sort of information should be an immediate red flag for you. The best response is to contact the service provider directly and ask what's up.
Save the email and contact the company directly by calling the customer service number or by visiting their website. Don't click on any links in the email. Check the website of your country's government department that is responsible for updating on regular scams consumer affairs and security agencies usually. Some non-profit consumer watchdog agencies also have similar information available online.
Restore old computers to factory settings. Whether you're selling an old computer, recycling it, or throwing it away, make sure you get rid of it safely. Restoring it to factory settings ensures all of your information is gone. Do the same with mobile devices. You can download free scrubbing programs online, or ask a trusted computer retailer or tech-savvy friend to help.
Information on how to restore your computer to its factory settings should be included in the manual that came with your computer, or you may be able to find a step-by-step guide online.
Encrypt your hard drive. Most Apple- and Windows-based computers have an option that allows you to easily encrypt the information on your hard drive. Check the security tab in your settings and follow the prompts to activate encryption.
Observe the same caution when transmitting information online. You should see a little lock icon if the website you're using is secure.
Don't enter personal information unless you see that symbol. Take care when posting on social media. Check your security settings on your social media accounts, and avoid posting personal information publicly, or publicly "checking in" to places.
Identity thieves as well as burglars can use this information to identify targets. Avoid "friending" anyone you don't know "in real life. Check security when shopping online. When shopping online, verify security symbols and encryption before entering any credit or identification details.
You also want to check the URL and make sure it's legit — avoid using links from an unsolicited email. It may be convenient but it's also a possible loss to you if the site is hacked. Keep a separate credit card just for online purchases.
That way if your information is compromised, you can easily cancel that card and your bank account or other credit cards won't be affected. Never use a debit card linked to your bank account online. Method 2 of Shred sensitive documents. Old billing statements or any other documents that contain any personally identifying information even if it's just your name and address shouldn't just be binned.
There are " dumpster divers " who are willing to wade through old coffee grounds and rotten orange peels to get their hands on your data. If you don't have a shredder, tear the documents into small pieces instead. Divide the pieces between two bags, then dispose of the bags separately.
Don't dispose of sensitive documents in public, including receipts. They can be picked out of the bin and used to steal your identity. If you don't want a receipt, let the cashier know. If this is not possible, take the receipt with you and dispose of it. Protect your snail mail. Mail services are common sites for identity theft activity. One of the most frequently used non-technological methods for identity theft involves rerouting your mail using a false change-of-address card.
Check your mail frequently so no one gets to it before you do. Opting into "paperless" statement programs with banks and credit cards can reduce the amount of sensitive financial information being sent to you through the mail. Opt out of pre-screened credit offers.