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How You Can Protect Against Identity Theft: 4 Simple Strategies

identity theft protection guest post

The following guest post has been contributed by Emily Kalan of Crediful. Emily is an experienced blogger that writes about all things finance, including debt, home ownership, loans, and financial identity protection.

Identity theft is far more common than you think - it’s one of those things that you hear about but don’t think it will ever happen to you. And it can be a particularly troubling problem to deal with when you are in retirement.

The reality is that millions of Americans suffer from identity theft every year, and it can leave you feeling targeted, vulnerable, and unsafe.

Thankfully, there are ways you can protect yourself against identity theft without having to spend hundreds of dollars on protective services. Keep reading to find out how!

Looking for identity protection for families? Then head on over to Crediful.com and check out our in-depth post on some of the best identity theft protection services.

1 - Use Strong Passwords

Although it may seem air-tight, YourName123 is not a strong password. Neither is your pet's name, your favorite soccer team, or your hometown.

Hackers and identity thieves are clever and will guess easy passwords if they target you. Passwords should be at least 8 characters, with at least one number and a special character.

If your password is a PIN or a number-only password, then try to make it as difficult as possible. Your birthday or your year of marriage can be easily guessed, so pick something that nobody could possibly associate with you.

There are free and secure internet add-ons that can help you store your passwords safely, which means you won’t have to remember them. One such example is LastPass, which you can use for a secure storage place of your passwords.

Using the same password for everything makes it easy for identity thieves to gain access to your information! They only have one password to crack instead of a dozen.

2 - Be Cautious with Your Credit Report

Credit Bureaus have access to your private information - your credit history, payments, debts, and all kinds of personal information.

If you think your information has been compromised or you just want to be extra safe, then it may be worth considering freezing your credit file.

To do this, you just need to pay the credit bureaus a small fee and they’ll freeze all of your accounts. This is useful in several ways - if a fraudster applies for a credit card or a loan in your name, then it’ll most likely get declined as they can’t run a credit check.

If you’re worried that freezing your credit report will have an effect on your credit score, then you can rest easy knowing that it has no impact on your credit score whatsoever.

It also means a potential fraudster won’t be able to access the information listed in your credit report, which is always good to know.

3 - Check Statements Regularly

Have you ever checked your statement for the first time in months and noticed that an unknown company has been taking from your account at regular intervals?

It happens to the best of us - but it can be prevented by checking our statements regularly. This has been made a lot easier in recent times thanks to the introduction of the mobile app and online banking.

In 2020, you can check your balances and recent transactions no matter where you are on the globe. That makes it easier to see fraudulent or suspicious transactions as they appear.

Regular fraudulent transactions generally start small. So, if you don’t check your statements too often, it won’t seem like anything suspicious or important.

Keep an eye out for transactions of $0.99 or a few dollars - smaller transactions are generally used to test the system. If they go through, they may then go on a spending spree in your name.

This is why you should always check where your funds have gone to - even if it’s only a dollar or two. If you’re unsure, contact your bank - they will be able to run the transactions through with you one by one, and send out a detailed statement for you.

4 - Understand the Tech You Are Using

Smartphones, mobile banking, and online banking can all be super safe and secure if you know what you’re doing. But, unfortunately, it’s a lot easier for identity thieves to gain access if you aren't too sure how to protect your devices.

It’s a common misconception that just the elderly click links or accidentally give away their personal data, but anybody can fall victim to this.

Something as simple as clicking a link on an email can put you at risk, which is why it’s necessary to understand the do’s and don'ts of cell phones.

An important thing you should do is arrange for a data wipe if you ever lose your phone. Most smartphones store so much of your personal data which makes it easy for thieves to get your information if they find your cell.

It’s also a good idea to have a PIN or password to access your phone, and for certain apps. Banking apps have 2FA, making it harder for thieves to access your bank even if you lose your phone and you don’t have a password but that same can’t be said for other apps that hold your data.

Your password should be changed regularly and shouldn’t be an obvious pattern of numbers like 1234.

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