How To Protect Your Family From Identity Theft

Ever since the Equifax hack, many people are concerned about getting their identity stolen. Identity theft affects about 9 million people per year. Even though this is a common problem, there are things that you can do in order to protect yourself.

Avoid Over-Sharing on Social Media

Social media has a number of benefits. It allows you to connect with family members and friends as well as network with other people. However, social media does put you at risk for getting your identity stolen. A 2011study showed that people who have been on social media for a long time were twice as likely to be a victim of identity theft as those who are new to social media.

It is easy for you to overshare personal information on websites like LinkedIn and Facebook. There are some things that you can do to be on social media and protect your personal information. You should adjust your privacy settings so that people who are not on your friend lists cannot see your personal information. You should also avoid putting your exact birth date on your social networking site.

Shred Personal Documents

Many people throw away personal documents when they no longer need them. However, it is a good idea to shred the personal documents before you throw them away. Your personal information can be stolen if you throw away documents that have your name, address, birth date and social security number. Documents that you should shred before you throw them away include credit card statements and mail.

Use Antivirus and Anti-malware Software

Identity thefts can steal your personal information if you have a virus or malware on your computer. There are several ways that viruses and malware can enter your computer. You can install malware on your computer when you click on certain links. Visiting certain websites can also put malware or viruses on your computer.

That is why it is important to install antivirus and anti-malware software on your computer. You should also avoid storing your passwords. This makes it easy for hackers to install your personal information.

Protect Your Wallet and Purse

You likely store a lot of your personal information in your purse or wallet. Keep your purse or wallet close to you at all times. Avoid using purses that people can easily see and reach into. Additionally, it is a good idea to make copies of your ID, social security card and other personal documents.

Create Strong Passwords

Online banking is becoming more common. If you bank online, then it is a lot easier for hackers to steal your financial information. One of the keys to protecting your online banking information is to create a strong password. You do not want to use a password that can easily be guessed such as 12345 or password.

The more complex your password is, the harder it will be for people to guess it. You should use a password that has a combination of upper and lowercase letters. It should also contain numbers and symbols. If you have multiple bank accounts, then you will need to use a different password for each.

Monitor Your Credit

One of the first things that hackers often do when they get access to someone’s personal information is open up accounts in their name. That is why you will need to monitor your credit. Every major credit bureau will give you one free credit report per year. If you notice anything suspicious, then you will need to report it immediately. You can place a credit freeze or fraud alert on your account for even more protection.

Photo: CafeCredit.com / CC 2.0

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