5 ways to protect yourself from identity theft

5 ways to protect yourself from identity theft

What is an identity thief?

An identity thief is a criminal that takes the personal information of someone else and uses it without his or her knowledge. Once a false identity is secured the thief often uses the credit and funds of their victim to purchase items and can even commit crimes in the victim’s name.

Five ways to protect yourself from becoming a target:

 

 

1. Improve your password practices

Your passwords act as doorways to your personal information which is why identity thieves target them. If you are organised and use different passwords for all of your accounts then, even if you become a target, you minimise the risk of an identity thief being able to access all of your information and cause maximum damage.

An example of a strong password is one that is a minimum of eight characters in length and contains both lower and uppercase letters, numbers and symbols (i.e. !$?&@). Also make sure your passwords remain safely hidden. Don’t make the mistake of saving all your important password information in the same place with an obvious label. Hide them away and don’t share them with anyone.

2. Remain mysterious on social networks

Tech-savvy thieves use what you share on social networks for scams, so don’t over share! Think twice about sharing details such as when you will be on holidays or away from home for a long period of time; your home and email address; names of your children; birth date and so on. Keep in mind that these pieces of information can be used by thieves to access both physical and digital aspects of your life if you aren’t careful.

3. Stay alert and don’t fall for scams

It is common practice for scam artists to "phish" for victims by pretending to be government agencies, banks or stores. This can be done via email or regular mail as well as over the phone; therefore it is recommended that you do not respond to any requests to verify account numbers or passwords unless you have made the first contact with the company. Legitimate companies don’t request this type of information in this manner. Never give out your personal information unless you initiated the contact.

4. Be wary when entering credit card information online

You should only ever enter your personal details on secure Web pages with "https" in the URL and a padlock symbol at the bottom of the browser window. These are signs that the information you input is going to be encrypted or scrambled, thus protecting you from hackers. Additionally, before you enter any credit card information online ensure you check the websites privacy policy and keep your eyes peeled for opportunities to opt out of information sharing. If there is no privacy policy listed this is a warning sign that you should shop elsewhere!

5. Check your statements regularly

Monitoring your credit card and other financial information regularly is a great defence against identity theft. It is recommended that you open credit card bills and bank statements right away and check carefully for any unauthorised charges or withdrawals and report them immediately. Call if bills don’t arrive on time. It may mean that someone has changed contact information to hide fraudulent charges.
 

 

 

Identity crime is sadly quite a common occurrence in this country, with the Australian Government stating that 1 in 5 Australians have fallen victim to identity-related crimes at some stage. The results of such crimes can be devastating because targets of such attacks sometimes do not know they have been targeted until the thief has done a great deal of damage already.


It is important to realise that even if you do follow all these steps you may still become a target, so stay vigilant and keep an eye out for the next article in this three part series that will detail the best practices to follow if you fall victim to an identity crime. 

About the Author

Madison Seymour is an experienced business-to-business marketer. With a keen focus and awareness of digital marketing practices, Madison specialises in the online development and maintenance of companies operating in the financial services sector. Primarily that of insurance and underwriting businesses.