Identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America, according to TransUnion, and the Federal Trade Commission says 9.9 million people a year fall victim to this crime.
There are ways you can go about preventing this so that you won't become a statistic:
Monitor your financial activity
Always make sure you’re checking your bank account. Setting up your account online gives you faster and more convenient access to monitor the activity on your account and if you’re looking daily, you’ll be able to catch a problem right away and report it before it snowballs.
Stick with your bank
Avoid using non-bank ATMs, especially ones located at gas stations as often as possible. Sometimes you may find yourself in an area not located near any of your bank’s ATMs but it could be worth it to pay an extra fee and use one at a different bank. You will have an exceptionally smaller chance of fraud when using any bank’s ATMs rather than a free-standing one.
Be careful when shopping online
Online shopping is another place where hackers are lurking, trying to grab your information. If the website isn’t secure, hackers can record your keystrokes as you type in your credit card information upon check-out. Make sure if you’re typing sensitive personal information on a website, the address starts with HTTPS, meaning you’re on a secure site.
If you want to get rid of documents that have any sort of personal information on it, it would be best to dispose of it by using a shredder. Before you throw anything out with personal information on it, make sure it’s unreadable. For example, if it’s a box you’re throwing out and it has your address on it, try ripping off the label or using a sharpie to block it out.
Be creative with passwords
When you create a password for any account that obtains your personal info, make sure it includes letters and numbers. It’s also a good strategy to create different passwords for all of your accounts so that in the event one password is hacked, not all of your accounts will be compromised.
Watch out for scams
Be weary of telephone scams. If you receive any phone calls where someone is claiming to be from a company that needs your personal information it’s best to not give it out. Hang up and call the company yourself to find out if it is really them or not. Even though it may take more time and effort to make an extra phone call, it could save you your identity. It’s better to be safe than sorry.
Filter your email
If you receive a suspicious email, don’t click on anything. Look carefully at the company logo to see if it matches the real one or if it looks out of place. Usually if there’s an emergency, a bank will not email you, they’ll call you. If you still aren’t sure, it’s best to call the customer service number for your bank or whomever is supposedly contacting you.