Identity theft is a horrifying thing for anyone to experience. Identity theft is what happens when a person uses personal information, including credit cards, social security numbers, or banking information that does not belong to them. The thief will commonly use someone else’s name or identification to commit fraud or other crimes. Identity theft is against the law, and criminals will be punished if they are caught. However, they are often never captured as these crimes occur secretly or through the internet. 

If you want to learn the many ways you can help keep your identity safe, keep reading for several tips for protecting yourself from identity theft. 

Shred or Destroy Private Documents

Many people receive their private documents, such as credit card statements and tax returns, online these days, which is a great timesaver. As a result, physical mail has decreased. However, a lot of personal information still comes on paper through the mail, so most people still end up with many paper documents that include their personal data. 

If you don’t need to save this paperwork or have gathered all the information you need from them, be sure to destroy or shred them completely so no one else can read them and steal the information they contain. 

Keep Your Mail/Email Secure

Similar to the last tip, it’s essential to keep your mail secure, whether it’s physical or digital. Many people don’t think to check their mail as often anymore because they don’t think they get anything worth looking at. However, it’s vital to keep tabs on your mail before someone else does. Check your mailbox daily, and be sure to take mail out of your mailbox right away so it can’t get stolen. 

Keep Your Social Security Number Protected

You should never carry your social security number on your person, as this is one of the easiest ways someone can steal your identity. Instead, you should always leave any documents with your social security number at home in a locked file cabinet or secure lock box. In addition, have your social security number memorized so you can use it when you need it without needing the actual physical card. If someone has your social security number, they can essentially use everything within your identity, so keeping that number secure is vital. 

Don’t Fall for Scams

It’s easier said than done, but try not to fall for phishing scams or scammers over the phone. There are various ways you can avoid falling for scams, but one of them is to screen your calls or delete emails from unknown numbers or addresses. Also, if you are in a messaging thread or call with someone asking for personal information, do not feel any pressure to act immediately or hand over your information on the spot. If your personal information is actually needed, the requester can certainly wait. And, of course, never hand over personal information from an address or caller you don’t know. 

Review Credit Card Statements 

It’s easy to see your credit card statements come in and toss them to the side. You might assume you know what you’ve swiped your card for, so you don’t need to review your statements. However, checking your monthly statements can alert you to whether or not anyone else has been using your card. This is useful anyhow if you have kids or other family members that have access to your cards, but it is even better to see if any scammers have access to your credit card numbers. 

Be Careful About Who Contacts You

Never feel uncomfortable asking questions when people contact you for personal information. If someone calls you and requests your personal information, make sure you ask for their name, the company they work for, and why they are calling.

Additionally, make sure they know who they are calling for. Make them repeat your name to be sure they are personally trying to contact you and that they aren’t just trying to get you to say your name so they will have it. And similar to the tip about falling for scams, don’t feel pressured to respond immediately or instantly hand over any personal information. You can always take their number and call back!

Be Careful In Airports/High Traffic Areas

In modern years, scammers have used high-tech scanners in high-traffic areas like airports to scan your cards or identification through your baggage. Invest in RFID-blocking luggage, wallets, or purses to prevent this from happening so that scammers can’t skim your information through your bags. 

In addition, never put your card into a reader or machine that looks odd. At gas stations or ATMs, scammers have been known to install fake readers on top of real ones that skim your information. Be aware!

Use Password Management Software

Password management software helps keep all your information in one place and prevents you from losing track of your passwords. You should change your password/security questions for the software often to ensure that all your sensitive information is kept safely in one place. 

Use All Possible Security Measures 

Like the protective password software, use all possible security measures that a website or mobile app offers. Usually, new applications have the option to include measures like Face ID or two-factor authentication. You should always opt to use these measures because they make it much harder for thieves to access your account. In addition, these measures usually require you to have a different device with you to authenticate that it’s really you accessing the account, making you less susceptible to scammers.

Do the Websites You Use Protect Your Data?

It’s essential to determine whether or not the websites and apps you use protect your data. Websites typically use a specific type of encryption that keeps your personal information safe. The most popular encryption methods are Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) and Hypertext Transport Protocol Secure (HTTPS). Using things like Google Safe Browsing can usually help you tell whether websites are safe or not, but they are not always foolproof. So you should also learn how to do your own investigation. 

Does Branded Surveys Protect Your Data?

Yes! Branded Surveys protects your data and keeps your personal information secure. Branded Surveys only retains your personal information for as long as necessary to complete their studies, meaning they only hold onto your data while it’s necessary for the purpose they originally collected it for. Branded Surveys also considers the sensitivity and nature of your collected personal information when determining how long to hold onto the data. The site also allows you to opt out at any time, meaning you can always end the site’s use of your personal data.  As a side note, if you plan to make money taking online surveys, be sure to only work with a legit survey site that protects your data. 

Identity Theft Can Be Life-Altering

Identity theft is nothing to be careless about. Therefore, you should always be considering the steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. If your identity is stolen once, it is much more likely for it to happen again, as the original scammer may have sold your information to other criminals on the dark web. And sadly, it is much more difficult to “clean up” identity theft rather than prevent it from happening in the first place. However, if you follow these helpful measures to stay protected, you’ll have a good chance of keeping your identity safe and secure for years to come.