“Our online lives are facing constant attack by identity thieves. ”
7 Easy Actions to Identity Theft Prevention
Yes, you know it’s important to periodically check your credit report, your financial statements and your cellphone account. But realistically, cyber security breeches are happening all the time and all over the globe.
USE A PASSWORD MANAGER
Advantages of Password Managers:
1. Password managers can auto-create super long and secure passwords for you.
2. You never have to type them in because you can just copy and paste them from the password manager into whatever you’re trying to log into.
3. Having unique and long passwords is the most important and easiest way for you to significantly increase the security of your identity online.
4. Very inexpensive and effective action you can take to lock down your identity security.
5. Many password managers syn seamlessly between your smart phone and your desktop or laptop, making their use even easier.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Make sure that your login password to your Password Manager is truly unique and different from all your others. Choose something you have never used before and be sure to include symbols and numbers to mix it up.
Take Action #1
Choose a password manager app and begin using it this week.
ENABLE 2-STEP AUTHENTIFICATION
2-Factor Authentication can completely shut down someone trying to take control of your accounts and should be enabled for any of your accounts that support it.
Two Factor Authentication gets its’ name because you have to prove 2 factors before access to the account is granted.
STOP A SIM SWAP
“Using a VPN has become a necessary security measure for those concerned with privacy of their data.”
USE A VIRTUAL PROCESSING NETWORK
Virtual Processing Networks (aka VPN’s) are getting a lot of attention with the new awareness by American citizens of how their personal data is being used by companies for profit motives.
Ever wonder how that pair of amazing shoes you were looking at online this morning suddenly showed up in the Facebook ads you see that evening? It’s because of the digital footprint you are leaving each time you visit a site and how these sites are sharing your browsing information between platforms to increase sales.
Yes, Big Brother is truly watching!
What is a VPN?
A VPN allows you to put an extra layer of privacy between you and the website you are visiting at any given time. Imagine a VPN as a hack-proof, encrypted tunnel for online traffic to flow. Nobody can see through the tunnel and get their hands on your internet data.
There are several very good VPN providers and with plans as low as $2.99/month it’s easy to have peace of mind each time you use public/hotel Wi-Fi, access personal and work accounts on the road, or want to keep your browsing history to yourself.
IMPORTANT NOTE: Read the fine print before signing up. Make sure that the VPN provider you select does not store your browsing data. It defeats the purpose if your VPN provider itself has a data breach and your personal info is compromised.
Take Action #4
Set aside 30 minutes this week to compare VPN’s and their benefits to your internet security.
GO PAPERLESS & BUY A SHREDDER
If you can, you should opt-in to go paperless whenever possible. Ever have your mail go missing or delivered to your neighbor by accident? How about receiving someone else’s mail and opening it in error (or to just be nosy!) Removing the paper from your life closes that gap of opportunity for identity thieves.
In 2018, consumers reported over $1.8 BILLION DOLLARS in credit card fraud and many of the thieves are stealing your identity right out of your mailbox and garbage can!
Criminals are bold enough to actually drive up and take mail right out of your mailbox and others do nightly garbage collection routes to pick up random trash out of neighbor’s garbage at the curb and then go through it to find usable information.
What’s in Your Garbage Can?
The paperwork that came inside your mail order prescription? They now know the name of your pharmacy and what medications you take. Letters from your kid’s school?
They now know your child’s name and where he/she goes to school!
Marketing mail from your bank, mortgage company and credit card company all offer snoops enough information to complete your identity profile with a little online research and steal your identity. Shred It!
Take Action #5
Switch to paperless billing as you pay your bills this month and shred everything else before throwing it in the trash.
USE YOUR FREE ANNUAL CREDIT REPORT
As an American citizen, you have the right to obtain a free credit report from www.annualcreditreport.com. We suggest that you use this service because it is free and does not require you to provide credit card information.
Many others that are available on the internet will rope you into a 30-day credit monitoring trial that you have to remember to cancel before the 30-day trial expires.
Take Action #6
✔️Pull your credit report at annualcreditreport.com today.
✔️Make a commitment to review it completely by the end of the week.
✔️Set up an auto-reminder in your calendar to do the same in 12 months, repeating annually.
FREEZE YOUR CREDIT
Freezing your credit with services like LifeLock® are an excellent way to prevent your identity from being stolen, but there are pros and cons that come with taking this security measure.
Pros & Cons:
+ Freezes your credit with the 3 major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion).
+ No one can open up a new line of credit in your name.
- That also means you, though, so make sure you’re not going to need a mortgage or new line of credit anytime soon.
+ You can unfreeze your credit at any time, though it may take a couple days.
+ This doesn’t affect any current lines of credit you have or your credit score.
+ You can keep using your current credit cards.
+ Stops a ton of junk mail (no more pre-approved credit card offers)
If you don’t think you’ll need to have any new lines of credit anytime soon, a credit freeze is one of the best things you can do to protect your credit.
Credit freezes are also a really smart thing to place on your kids if they’re under 18 (even if they’re newborns!). There have been many horror stories of kids turning 18 or going into college, trying to get a credit card only to find out that at some point when they were younger their identity was stolen and a line of credit opened in their name, ruining their credit worthiness.
Keep in mind, your credit score is used for many more things than just applying for a credit card. It’s used to determine your interest rate on a home or car loan. It’s used to determine if you are required to put down a deposit (and how much) for many utility companies and rental communities. And frankly, it’s a real pain in the butt to correct if it gets screwed up by identity fraud.
Freeze it now and unfreeze it when they turn 18.
Take Action #7
Commit to spending 30 minutes this week to freezing your child’s credit and possibly your own.
As our lives move more and more onto the online world, or physical identities become tied even tighter with our digital ones.
Make sure you’re taking these steps to protect yourself and your family from identity theft and Keep Your Private Junk, Private.
We’ve looked at stepping up your identity protection. Are you ready to step up your self-defense game too? At Defense Divas®, we offer a diva-fantastic selection of self-defense products for women.
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