How to Prevent Identity Theft
Identity theft can be very scary. A person can emulate your persona and gain access to your financial accounts or apply for loans in your name, disappearing with the funds and leaving yourself with a large headache to untangle.
With the expansion of the internet, the risks of identity theft are only growing and expanding in new ways and leaving many people exposed to the significant risks of having their persona stolen and used in negative ways. There is a real identity theft problem out there and finding ways to understand and to protect yourself from this problem are essential.
How Do Identity Thieves Get Their Information?
You would likely be surprised at the quantity of data out there on you. We live in the era of big data in which companies accumulate significant amounts of data on individuals in order to increase their sales. Most companies will track individual buyers to explore their spending habits. The same is true of digital advertising companies who accumulate information on users in order to identify which impressions to serve.
Social media, in many ways, makes it worse. Once a bad actor is tracking you and have several key pieces of information on your they can start to monitor your social media accounts and accumulate your birthday when others wish you a happy birthday, or your personal tastes and interests. With these pieces of information on your they can begin to predict your passwords and potentially hack into your accounts, exposing you overall.
Once you know that there is an identity theft problem out there you should be very careful.
- Have more complicated passwords that you rotate through and keep your financial passwords different than those you use for social media accounts and other basic internet sites that may not have the identity protection that banks, and other financial institutions invest in.
- Create complex passwords with combinations of numbers and letters and never use your birthday or place of birth in the password itself.
Employ Credit Protection at the Major Credit Bureaus
The four major credit bureaus have credit protection features in place that allow you to place freezes on your credit so that others cannot simply open up a credit loan in your name without you identifying yourself beforehand. This can prevent bad actors from opening loans in your name. However, this is often not enough. Further identity theft protection is needed.
Many credit cards and private companies offer identity theft protection that you should consider protecting your persona from infiltration. They will perform searches of financial institutions, provide you with lists of accounts opened up in your name, and help you to see these early on so that you can better protect your account and name.