What steps can you take to prevent identity theft?
Identity theft can affect your background check in more ways than one. Considering how common background checks and identity theft have become, this is really bad news. In this article, we explain the steps to take to prevent identity theft and all of its (often disastrous) consequences.
Set up Credit Monitoring
Credit monitoring is recommended as one of the best ways to detect identity theft despite its relatively high cost. Shop around to get the best deal. You might also want to to a background check on yourself with Checkpeople or a similar site. It will liely find any aberrations that may be on your file.
Monitor Your Accounts
You can keep up with activity easily if you create an online account with your credit card provider and bank. This is a good idea because you can detect unauthorized transactions early. Don’t tell anyone your login details, and don’t write them down if you can help it. You need to keep them safe.
Some card providers and banks offer fraud notifications to inform their clients of suspicious account activity. This can help you detect unauthorized use before serious financial losses are incurred.
Protect Your Social Security Number
An identity thief can wreak havoc on your credit if they get their hands on your social security number. Your social security card does not belong in your wallet. Never send it over public wi-fi, use it on a website you aren’t sure is secure, or write it down. When you give it to a company over the phone, make sure someone you don’t trust is not listening or watching you.
Alert Yourself to Spoofing and Phishing
Seemingly legitimate emails can contain unsafe links or otherwise steal your data. Scammers can make phone calls look like they came from a legitimate business or the government. Rather than responding to emails or calls, initiate a return email or callback from the official site or another known entity. Malware infects your computer by downloading attachments, so make sure you only open those you trust.
Preventing Check Theft
To stop someone from stealing a check, pick check orders up. This is a common way to commit identity theft. Thieves can make new checks and use them to buy things using your checking account and routing number. Instead of having new checks mailed to your address, pick them up from the bank yourself. It’s important to be alert to missing check orders and report them at once.
Add an Authenticator App
Adding an authenticator app can minimize the risk of someone stealing your identity. To keep your accounts safe, don’t rely on secret questions like your first pet’s name. To create and store unique and complex passwords, use a password manager.
More people give away secret information about themselves on social media than you may think. Be careful about what you post, so you don’t give away clues or important info about the answers to your secret questions.
Protect Your Mail
Identity theft is facilitated by stolen mail. If you’re not in town, have the post hold your mail. Get a lockable mailbox that’s approved by the U.S. Postal Service. They offer a service called Informed Delivery, through which you get a mail preview. That way, you can report missing mail early.
Use Online Bill Pay
If you still mail bills, know that scammers can steal valuable information from your mailbox this way. Since practically every establishment offers online bill pay now, why not take advantage? Get someone you trust to help you if you’re not computer savvy. When you pay bills online, most establishments will email or text you to confirm receipt of payment. Do sign up for this option.
Shred all Your Mail
Are we getting a bit paranoid? Not in the least. It is very easy for someone to fish an investment, bank, or credit card statement out of your trash can. Preapproved credit offers and any other junk mail should be shredded as well. If you’re getting too many preapproved credit card offers, consider opting out of them, permanently or temporarily. While you might miss a good offer, keep in mind, these offers always contain your personal information, and thieves use them to get financial products in victims’ names.
Mobile Devices are a big Risk
According to a recent report by Javelin, less than 50% of all people lock their mobile devices consistently. To protect your device, use a strong password. Instead of a mobile browser for banking, use a protected banking app.
Use a Digital Wallet
This is an app with digital and secure debit and credit card versions, which we recommend using when paying in-store or online. Transactions are encrypted and tokenized so as to be completely safe.