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How Can I Protect Myself From Potential Identity Thieves?

Identity theft has become a bit of a plague on American and the world. Good hard working people have their identity and information stolen and then face potential financial ruin as these criminals rack up charges and loans against a person’s credit. Identity theft is incredibly important to protect against. Unraveling the financial trouble that’s caused can take years, and in some cases, mistaken identity can occur for several years. These fraudsters are always looking for ways to access your bank account, credit cards and email. Therefore protection has to be foremost in a person’s mind. It’s not easy though. It leads one to wonder, “how can I protect myself from potential identity thieves?”

Answer: Securing your online presence is a great way to start protecting yourself.

The first thing that any person needs to do is ensure that their passwords are secure. It’s absolutely vital to never use the same password for online activities. This greatly increases the risk to a person’s identity. If one website or business is breached and the passwords get leaked, these same people will attempt to access the more important financial information with the same passwords. One way to assist in helping your online profile stay safe is the use of password managers. There’s a wide variety of different programs out there. These password managers allow you to use creative and essentially impossible to crack passwords, without having to remember multiple complex strings of numbers, letters and characters. When using a password manager, you’ll have to log into it on either a computer or mobile device. You will do this typically through two factor authentication and having a really difficult to crack password. This one master password must be complex and memorized. That being said, memorizing one very difficult password is much easier than memorizing multiple ones. 

Another way to protect against identity theft is through various services offered by credit companies. These companies offer variously named services which all boil down to notifying a person as soon as some unexpected activity starts to appear on their credit history. These services also help people recover from identity theft. This point is especially important since it can take years untangling identity theft, and these services have records of these false transactions and can quickly fix things. 

A very simple thing that assists in avoiding identity theft is just always considering that people might be trying to get at your information. If an email is coming from an odd source or seems fishy, then don’t open it or click on a link! Don’t shop at stores that seem to have sprung up overnight or are copying a real store. Stick to established and safe vendors only. Cultivating a level of online common sense with a dash of paranoia should help many. 

Additional Resources

Obviously, identity theft is a complicated issue with many facets. There are a wide variety of different resources online that can assist people in protecting themselves from identity thieves. Some useful resources include: 

  1. Equifax - This is one of the three main large credit bureaus that create credit scores. They know how to protect themselves and offer services to help people do so as well. This article is about identity theft protection tips. 
  2. Nerdwallet - This is a popular online website that provides information about credit cards, credit and managing money. This article focuses on the many aspects of identity theft including warning signs and prevention tips. 
  3. Usa.gov - Unsurprisingly, the United States government has advice on something that is illegal and can harm citizens. This article is all about identity theft, including warning signs, types of identity theft and prevention tips. 

Questions to Consider