According to the Federal Trade Commission, there were more than 650,000 reports of identity theft in the U.S. in 2019. That’s a lot of panicked people. With everything on your plate during these times, the last thing you need to worry about is having your identity stolen. Rest assured, we have some tips up our sleeve to make sure it doesn’t happen to you. First, it’s important to understand exactly what a person can do with your identity, should they steal it:
- Ruin your credit score by taking out loans in your name
- Making purchases on your credit card
- Drain your bank account
- File and receive your tax return
- Take on medical debt in your name
The truth of the matter is, once you discover identity theft, it can take months or even years to get your credit score and financial situation back to where it once was. That’s why protecting yourself from identity theft is so important. Here are some things you need to know.
Don’t reuse passwords
We get it. Everything requires a password these days, and it’s tempting to use the same one over and over for sanity’s sake. But the problem with reusing passwords is that if one site suffers a data breach, the password you used on other sites is now in the hands of a potential identity thief. We recommend using a Password Manager like LastPass, Keeper, and 1Password.
Be careful when shopping online
If shopping online has recently become one of your favorite past times, you’re not alone. Just make sure you only shop websites you trust and that the site you’re buying from uses HTTPS. That means that your connection to the site is secured and isn’t vulnerable to being intercepted by hackers or identity thieves. Verify that a site is secure by checking the “lock” icon in your browser.
Monitor for data breaches
If you receive a letter or email about a potential data breach, take it seriously. If you are affected by one, take the time to change all your passwords. This is easier to do if you use a password manager, like we suggested above.
Avoid free wi-fi when connecting to sensitive services
Free Wi-Fi is nice, but it usually comes at the price of privacy. When a network is open, it can be easy for a hacker to sit nearby and intercept communication between your phone or laptop and the router. Use discretion when inputting passwords or filling out forms in a public place.
Be careful with personal information over the phone
If possible, avoid giving out your personal information over the phone. And if you aren’t the one who initiated the phone call, don’t even think about it! Even if your caller ID says it’s your bank, it might not actually be, as scammers can spoof that information quite easily. If you get a call from someone who asks for your personal information, request that you call them back. Verify the phone number through something official, or call your bank yourself.
Shred personal data
Yes, it can be time consuming, but before throwing away any personal information, run it through a shredder. Sometimes companies will send you unsolicited applications through the mail. Be sure to shred these as well just in case they put any identifying information in the letter. Simply ripping them up, unfortunately, isn’t always enough.
Keep documents safe
If you own a safe, now is the time to use it. If you don’t, consider purchasing one. Use the safe to keep all personal information such as account numbers, property deeds, car information, etc. Using a safe (a hidden safe is even better) makes it less likely that someone will be able to steal your information in the event of a break-in.
Stay vigilant and trust your instincts
If something seems off, it probably is. The email from someone with a couple misspellings in the subject line, the website that looks just a little bit off, the mailing with an offer that seems too good to be true? Yes, don’t trust them. Trust your gut and your instincts. You’re feeling that feeling for a reason.
How World Finance Protects your Personal Information
When you apply for a loan with World Finance, we take your personal information very seriously. We use HTTPS to secure our online application and use the latest security measures to protect your information. If you’re thinking about taking out a personal loan, consider contacting us to see what we can do for you. Stay safe out there!