How to Protect Your Identity
Every year, millions of people in the United States are affected in some way by identity theft. Fraud and identity theft are difficult to detect and resolve, and unfortunately many people are more vulnerable than they think. The good news is that there are ways to keep yourself safe and protect your valuable identity and financial information. Here are the five best steps to take to safeguard yourself and your identity.
Get a Smart Card
One of the most common forms of fraud involves stealing and using a credit card, and there are few barriers in place to prevent this from happening. With EMV-standard smart cards, however, a microchip embedded in the card adds a more robust layer of protection, generally in the form of a pin number. Though many retail stores have not yet introduced EMV-compliant hardware, that is expected to change by the fall of 2015. In the meantime, smart cards can still be used with older hardware, and the retailer assumes all liability in the event of fraudulent charges.
Protect Your Smartphone
If you’re like most people, your phone probably contains a tremendous amount of personal information. Mobile banking, financial monitoring apps, passwords, credit card data and other important information can all be stored on your phone, and it can easily fall into the wrong hands if left unsecured. Be sure that your phone is protected by a unique password, and set it to automatically lock after a period of inactivity. Most phones also have an option to erase all stored data if the password is entered incorrectly several times in a row. Finally, consider using a phone tracking service that allows you to track your phone via GPS and lock and wipe it if it’s ever stolen.
Monitor Your Statements
The best way to stop fraud and identity theft is to prevent it from happening, but that may not always be possible. That’s why it’s crucial to closely monitor all of your personal information for signs of suspicious activity. By routinely checking credit card and bank statements, you can spot any anomalous transactions and quickly contact your bank or credit card company. You should also regularly check your credit report and look for any accounts, charges or other information that you don’t recognize. Because each of the three credit reporting agencies offer one free report per year, you can get one report every four months by requesting only one at a time.
Get Identity Theft Protection
It may seem obvious, but the single best way to prevent identity theft and fraud is to purchase identity theft protection. These services work by closely monitoring your personal information for any potential threats, keeping you informed and ensuring that your data is safe. If any potential threats do arise, identity theft protection services can assist you in taking action to resolve the issue and restore your identity quickly and painlessly. From online banking info to a stolen credit card or a lost wallet, identity protection is the best solution for identity protection, fraud prevention and peace of mind.