According to the FTC, nearly 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year. There are countless schemes, ploys and tricks utilized by criminals in order to take advantage of innocent consumers. Here are some ways that you can protect your identity online.
Security software and strong passwords are a necessity.
Not only is security software necessary, but it needs to be up-to-date! There is always something new to look out for – a good security software can help keep your devices free from malicious software. A weak password is like candy for an identity thief, especially if you use the same password for all sites. Passwords should be over 10 characters, with upper- and lower-case letters, symbols and numbers. When possible, use MFA (multi-factor authentication).
Don’t believe everything you read.
Spam and phishing scams range from laughable to very believable. Never send account information, click on a link, or call a phone number that has been sent to you to take you to your account. Always navigate directly or use a search engine to go to the website and get the phone number or sign in that way. Immediately dispose of any messages claiming to be from reputable companies that contain misspellings and poor grammar.
Periodically review your credit history.
You are entitled to 3 free credit reports per year by law; one each from Experian, Transunion, and Equifax. Once you have obtained one, check to see if there are any new lines of credit or other transactions that you have not made. Make sure that your Social Security number, address, name and employer are all correctly listed on your report.
Enroll in identity theft coverage.
Identity theft coverage can be obtained at a low cost that will protect your family in the event you or a family become a victim of identity theft. The LifeStages identity protection program, which is provided by Pike Mutual on all of its policies, includes unlimited expert fraud resolution and identity restoration, lost/stolen document replacement and out-of-pocket expense reimbursement. There are numerous benefits and plans available. More information can be found here.