Internet Safety Tip: How to Avoid Identity Theft

Woman sad looking at credit card

In 2016, a study on identity fraud found that roughly 13.1 million Americans were victims of identity theft. That’s the equivalent of every person in Idaho, Wyoming, Washington and Oregon having their identities stolen. That’s an astounding number.

So, what can you do to protect yourself?

Beware of Phishing

Phishing is the attempt to gain someone’s information by posing as a legitimate company or entity.

You can protect yourself from phishing with these steps:

1) Check the sender’s email address. If you don’t recognize an email address and the sender is acting as if they know you, that should be a red flag. If an email says it’s coming from a certain company, the sender’s email address should come from a legitimate company URL.

2) Don’t believe the sender based on their knowledge of you. Phishing emails are moving away from pornographic solicitations and lottery prize-winning schemes, and are now pretending to be legitimate businesses. They do this by using things like tracking numbers for online orders or bank account alerts to trick you into clicking. One of the ways fraudsters make these emails even look more legitimate is by actually using your information.

Check Your Credit Score

The fraud scene is changing. Where once identity thieves were easily able to steal a credit card number and make a fake card, it is becoming increasingly difficult to do.

The new trend is for thieves to gain access to your information and set up accounts in your name. Although it is difficult to stop this from happening once someone has your information, checking your credit report is an easy way to catch and stop it early on.

Most credit card companies send a monthly credit report with your statement, but the Federal Trade Commission’s website states you are entitled to one free credit report each year.

Check for lines of credit you did not open or unsolicited inquiries into your credit. If you see one, contact credit agencies and your bank immediately to place fraud alerts on your accounts.

Shop Online by Solely Using Credit Cards

First off, make sure you are buying from a reputable online seller. Once you have established the site’s credibility, then you can proceed to purchase.

Under federal law, if a hacker gets hold of your credit card number, as would be the case in online identity theft, you are not liable for unauthorized purchases. When paying with debit cards or other account transfers, you can face losses of $50 up to the entire amount stolen. So it can be better to opt to pay with a credit card. Most credit cards offer protections for their cardholders when facing issues with identity theft in addition to the federal protections.

Taking a few extra precautions to protect your identity can save a lot of headache down the road and keep your information safe. For more internet security tips, subscribe to our blog! Or contact us today with any questions you may have about setting up a secure connection.