Identity thieves continue to plague society in their quest to steal people's sensitive information. Millions of people each year find themselves victim of this time-consuming, expensive, and devastating crime. You can protect yourself now by using these important tips to protect yourself from identity theft.
People today think nothing of using their computers or mobile devices to shop, pay bills, and do other types of business online. They may believe that they are safe from hacking and identity theft because they are using their own devices rather than shared public computers. However, hackers can steal your information regardless of where or how you access the Internet.
You can stay one step ahead of thieves by:
- changing your passwords on a regular basis
- using anti-virus and anti-spam software
- updating security patches on your devices as alerted
- using firewalls to detect and ward off threats
You should never assume that you are safe because you are using your own computer, laptop, smartphone, or tablet. These tips will help you protect your sensitive information and keep it out of the hands of identity thieves.
Caution with Disclosure
Hackers will stop at nothing to get their hands on your personal information. They use the most cunning of guises to catch you off guard and discover details that should be off-limits to unauthorized parties like your bank or the IRS.
With that, it is crucial that you employ a healthy dose of skepticism before disclosing any identity or financial information over the phone, by email, or through other modes of communication. The IRS, for example, will never ask you to provide your Social Security number, bank account number, or other sensitive data by email or phone. The IRS will request these details in writing and often send that letter by certified mail.
If you receive an email or phone call from someone claiming to be from the IRS, you should immediately hang up and report it to the police as well as the Federal Trade Commission. You can also report it to the IRS by going to IRS.gov.
Caution with Paperwork and Documentation
Finally, you should be careful about what kinds of paperwork and documentation that you carry with you. You should avoid carrying your Social Security cards or any kind of paperwork with that number or your ITN on it.
If these papers are stolen from you, you could become the victim of identity theft. It is important at that point that you know what measures to take immediately to protect yourself from expensive and long lasting repercussions of this crime.
Steps to Take if You are the Victim of Identity Theft
If or when you find yourself victimized by this crime, you should take the recommended measures immediately to safeguard you and your money from further damage. First, you should file a report with your local police report. This report will be crucial to backing up your claim that you were victimized and not liable for expenses incurred in your name.
Next, you should file a report with the FTC at www.consumer.ftc.gov or by calling 1-877-438-4338. If someone filed a tax return in your name, you should likewise report the fraud to the IRS at www.irs.gov.
Finally, you must contact all three credit reporting bureaus to alert them to someone using your Social Security number without your consent. The three bureas are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. You can report the fraud to them online or by calling their toll-free customer service numbers.
Identity thieves continue to victimize millions of people each year. You can avoid becoming one of these statistics by using these critical suggestions to protect yourself from identity theft.