Protecting your identity and avoiding personal info theft is something you hear about a lot through commercials and general warnings. But even though it’s on the radar for most of us, it’s usually too late by the time we decide to do something about it. In fact, if you haven’t been the victim of identity theft, the only time you might think about it is when you see advertisements for protection or if it’s already too late.
Identity theft is one of those strange, constantly lingering dangers. In today’s hyper-connected world, your information is everywhere, and people with the right skills and knowledge can engage in personal info theft easily if they want to. Protecting yourself means making it harder for these people than it is worth.
No method of protection is perfect, but anything is a start, which is better than nothing.
Use these strategies to protect yourself from identity and personal info theft
One of the best ways to protect yourself from identity and personal info theft is to increase your personal security in small instances, such as setting passwords. Wherever you make a password for access to anything, there is a good chance you are accessing some valuable personal information that a criminal can use to steal your identity.
Even using computer recommended passwords can sometimes be dangerous because your computer will store that data. If a criminal gets access to your computer, they automatically have the information they need.
Passwords are just an initial step to genuinely protecting your identity. Other steps you can take include:
- Only use secure websites
- Check credit reports often for charges you don’t recognize
- Create fraud alerts to inform you of out of the ordinary activity
- Always protect documents with personal information
Actions to take if you have been a victim of identity or personal info theft
If you ever have an instance where you suspect some fraudulent action has taken place, the first step is always to contest whatever charges or activity you believe is inaccurate.
Depending on how the identity or personal info theft happened, you will want to take steps to cancel, freeze, or suspend any accounts that could be compromised or accessed by this theft. This could include credit cards, bank accounts, investment accounts, and more.
Take steps to inform the relevant companies about the theft. File a claim with whatever identity theft insurance you have and file a report with the FTC.
If possible, the most important thing to do is identify where the vulnerability in your protections was and learn from the mistake. Restoring your financial well-being and reputation after identity theft can be annoying, but it is not impossible. The biggest mistake would be not learning from the experience and putting yourself in a situation where it could happen again.
Have you been a victim of identity theft? What steps did you need to take to remedy the situation?