December 30, 2014

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3 Essential Identity Theft Protection Tips for the New Year

A new year always feels like a fresh start. Maybe this is the year you’re finally going to stress less, eat better and be active. Or maybe you just have one goal, like keeping on top of work projects or meeting every deadline. No matter what your resolutions, here’s an important one to add into the mix: Learn how to protect your identity with essential identity theft protection tips.

Identity theft hits a new victim every two seconds, according to a CNN report. Criminals are becoming more adept at using the information they get from data breaches of not only retailers but also healthcare systems and online accounts. About 46 percent of consumers whose card information is accessed through data breaches become fraud victims.

So, make this the year of protecting your identity better, starting with these three resolutions:

Three Tips to Protect Your Identity in 2015

1. Close down the paper trail. Credit card receipts, ATM slips, canceled checks, old bank statements: When you put all your papers together, it creates a profile of you and your spending habits that an identity thief could use for numerous purposes, including opening accounts in your name. Thieves have been spotted rummaging around in garbages and recycling bins, so if you don’t own a shredder, this is your year to buy one. Destroy any papers with account information, Social Security Numbers and identifying info. Also be sure to shred any credit card offers, bank courtesy checks and documents with your signature.

2. Learn to use cash again. Remember the old days, when people didn’t pay for a $2 coffee by handing over a debit card? This year, go retro. Although debit and credit cards are ultra-convenient, they also open you up to potential identity theft every time they’re used. You don’t have to cut them up — just resolve to add cash back into the mix for smaller everyday items and use the cards only for larger purchases.

3. Lock down your tech. Most people have some form of antivirus software and anti-malware installed on their computers (if you don’t, this is your year for it!). However, it’s time to get more proactive with protecting yourself. Create strong passwords, and change them monthly. (You can start by using passwords with a mix of letters and numbers.) Bulletproof your technology in other ways, too, like never clicking on any links from an email unless you know they’re from a trusted source and always being careful the information you share over social media. For example, people often unwittingly share details that can be used to answer security questions, like first pet’s name, high school or college attended, and mother’s maiden name.

No matter what resolutions you make, you don’t have to pursue them on your own. IdentityForce’s identity theft protection services offer safeguards for locking down your personal information, so you can protect your identity like a pro.

Image courtesy of Flickr user MT 23.

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Heidi Daitch

Director, Strategic Programs at IdentityForce
Heidi is a busy working mom who juggles many of the same responsibilities and challenges at home and at work - a long list of things to do and not enough time to do everything. With so little time, Heidi tries hard to find simple, but effective strategies to save time for what’s really important – spending time with her family.
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