Do you know how many times you’ve given out your social security number? For something that’s supposed to be highly guarded, we use it more often than you might think. When you get a new job, go to the doctor, do your taxes, apply for a credit card; you are entering your social security number either electronically or on paper. While these institutions are supposed vigorously protect this information, things don’t always go as they are supposed to. This is on top of the fact that e-crime has reached unprecedented levels in the last 20 years. The more technologically advanced we become, the more susceptible to cybercrime we make ourselves. Identity Protect is a company that will help protect you from these breaches of your private and financial data. As helpful as that protection is, you still want to work towards protecting yourself as well.
Preventing Identity TheftNothing can guarantee you will never be the victim of identity theft, but there are steps you can take to better protect yourself.
Step Up Your Password SecurityPasswords are tricky for people. They usually want to make it something that’s easy for them to remember. Unfortunately, if it’s easier for you to remember, it’s probably easier for someone else to guess. When it comes to a password, the more random and varied it is the better. I don’t mean random like ‘purple monkey dishwasher’ I mean random like ‘gR$Aig3#p^f7uFev^R.’ Understandably, that’s going to be difficult to memorize. If you write it down, be sure to put it somewhere secure. Identity Protect offers military-grade password protection.
Protect Your SS#Remember the whole giving out your social security number thing. Yeah… Stop doing that. Now yes, certain institutions will require you to give out your Social Security number. When you deal with the government or apply for credit, you probably won’t be able to get out of it. It’s also important to note that while you are rarely if ever required to give out your SS#, the company may choose not to work with you if you withhold it. At that point, you’ll have to weigh your level of trust in the company with how much you really want or need the service. Another pro-tip: Don’t keep your Social Security card on you if you don’t need it. Put it up somewhere safe. (You’re going to hear that a lot)
Be Careful with Your EmailsAs helpful as spam filters and security settings can be, malicious emails can still get through. If an email looks suspicious it’s best that you just don’t open it. If for whatever reason you do open it, avoid following links. Even if the email comes from what looks like a trusted source; identity thieves will use popular company names or subscription sites and tell you that you either have money waiting or there’s a problem with your account. When you open the email and click the link it will almost certainly take you somewhere malicious. The site might even be designed to look like the site the thief is mimicking. Here’s a scenario: You get an email that claims to be from Netflix. The subject line says something like: “TROUBLE WITH YOUR PAYMENT METHOD! FIX IMMEDIATELY TO RETAIN SERVICE!” Um… don’t open that. There are a couple reasons an email with a subject line like that should be left unopened.
- Overly stressed language: Fix immediately is a red flag, though not a deal-breaker by itself.
- ALL CAPS: Using all caps is a deal breaker. In fact, spammers know not to do this at this point. It’s only used in this example to make a point.
- Exclamation Points: Another red flag that the email is trying a bit too hard to get your attention.
Recovering from Identity TheftIf you are unfortunate enough to be the victim of identity theft it can be a disorienting and emotional time. You have to try to steel yourself. The faster you react the more you can mitigate and repair the damage. Here’re some steps you should take right away.