Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes in the United States. Millions of people every year find their lives and credit shattered by identity theft. Good credit is important. Without good credit you can find it difficult or even impossible to get a loan, buy a car, buy a house or even get a job or get utility service. Protecting your credit and preventing identity theft is the best way to protect yourself. It can take years to fix your credit if someone steals your identity so protecting yourself now is important.
Identity theft has been growing rapidly over the years, and just last year it topped the charts of most common consumer complaints in US, according to Federal Trade Commission (FTC). It’s becoming increasingly important to prevent ID theft happening to you rather than dealing with its harsh consequences, so here are some of the easiest ways to prevent identity theft!
Use cash not your credit card for small purchases
Most people think that they are only at risk for identity theft when they are making a major purchase or eating at a restaurant but that’s not the case. Most identity theft occurs when people are buying gas, or buying a few groceries, or getting a cup of coffee. That’s because most people let their guard down and hand over their cards without thinking when they are just spending a little bit of money. Instead of using a bank card or credit card for small purchases use cash. Your identity will be safe and you will stop overspending on little purchases.
Change your passwords regularly
Even if you have great antivirus protection on your computer you can still get your vital information stolen thanks to malware and spyware embedded on popular sites. Very popular sites and apps like social media sites and shopping sites can be infected and can get onto your computer and into your private information. With just a few details about you identity thieves can steal your identity and ruin your life. Change your passwords for all of the sites that you use, even social media sites, regularly. Don’t write down the passwords or keep the passwords anywhere close to the computer.
It’s also highly recommended you use a different, preferably random password for different websites and online services. It’s best to find a quality password manager app and write down your passwords in it. It’s much safer than keeping them saved in your browser.
Lock down your social media information
Many people don’t realize how much private information they willingly make public. Anyone with access to the Web and social media can find out your name, where you live, your spouse’s name and much more. Be careful with the information that you make public on social media. Lock down your privacy settings and be sure that none of your private information is public on any social media site. Only accept friend requests from people that you know on Facebook, and use their Privacy Settings correctly to lock down personal information, especially from public. Be more aware of the information that you are giving away on social media each day.
Monitor your credit regularly
You are entitled to one free copy of your credit report from all three of the major credit bureaus each year but checking your credit once a year is not enough. If your identity is stolen you need to find out about it as soon as possible. The sooner you know your identity has been stolen the faster you can start the process of protecting your credit. Use a credit monitoring service to make sure that no warning signs pop up on your credit.