It may feel overwhelming at first to think about all of the ways identity thieves can steal from you — after all, if they’re always lurking in the shadows, how can you consistently avoid them?
You can’t stop identity thieves from trying, but you can make small changes in your daily life that can have a big impact on keeping your sensitive details away from prying eyes. By shifting your mindset and incorporating vigilance into your routine, you’ll be able to feel much more at ease just knowing that you’re taking important steps toward identity protection.
Protecting Yourself Offline
We often hear about identity theft taking place online, but you should not forget that there are still plenty of good “old-fashioned” thieves out there and they aren’t afraid to operate in broad daylight to catch you when your guard is down.
Here are 3 things that you can do to stop them in their tracks.
- If you’re at an ATM, using your debit card at a retailer, or using a public computer, shield the keypad/keyboard when you’re typing your password or PIN — identity thieves could be casually looking over your shoulder.
- Stay on top of your mail by taking it out of your mailbox every single day. If you are going out of town for more than a couple days, put a hold on your mail delivery while you’re gone. Identity thieves love to pull bills and credit card offers right out of your mailbox to grab personal information.
- Make friends with your shredder. Compare receipts against account statements, and then shred them all. The same goes for any type of mail or documents you receive that contain your name, address, birthdate, or other personal information — if you’re not saving them, shred them before recycling.
Protecting Yourself Online
Cyber criminals come in all shapes and sizes — some are more sophisticated and know how to hack into systems, while others prefer to send out phishing e-mails and attempt other basic scams. You need to look out for all of them.
- Don’t respond to any suspicious requests for personal information. If a situation seems sketchy, it probably is — don’t be afraid to investigate a little before answering a request.
- Avoid creating simple passwords that can be easily guessed, and change your passwords often. Too many passwords are incredibly easy for hackers to guess — try to use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and punctuation, if possible.
- All your computers should have anti-virus, anti-phishing, and anit-malware software installed. There may be times where you slip up, and this type of software will be your backup.
There are plenty of other ways to protect yourself from identity theft, some of which can be found in a portion of our recent infographic below. To learn more about how you’re exposing your personal information and why it’s so important to stay aware, visit the IdentityForce Resource Center and take a look at our full infographic that addresses how two-thirds are clueless about identity theft.