The first thing you need to know about protecting yourself from Identity Theft is knowing the different types of Identity Theft – the more you know, the better you can protect yourself and your family.
- New Account Identity Theft: When a thief opens up a completely new account in a victim’s name. This can be done by digging credit card applications out of the mailbox of your trash.
- Existing Account takeover Identity Theft: This is when criminals gain access to existing accounts and make charges to credit cards, steal money from bank accounts, and file claims against insurance policies.
- Tax-related Identity Theft: This occurs when the criminal submits an income tax return using someone else’s Social Security Number and fraudulent income data, hoping to receive a refund.
- Criminal Identity Theft: This is when a criminal uses someone else’s identity when providing information to a law enforcement official. It could be for something as simple as a minor traffic violation. However, when fines are never paid and when the victim does not show up in court, authorities can issue an arrest warrant in the victim’s name.
Are you an easy target? In order to protect yourself from the various types of Identity Theft, you need to follow a few simple “Best Practices”.
- Is your mailbox secure? Some people do not have an issue with this in their neighborhoods. However, in some areas it is very common for mail to be stolen – especially around the Holidays and tax season. Securing your mailbox
can be an affordable “DIY” way to protect your identity. If it’s not possible to secure your mailbox, consider getting a Post Office Box at your local Post Office.
- Do you shred your documents? Dumpster diving is still a real thing – even in this digital world. If you are throwing away documents with your Social Security Number, bank account number, and sometimes even your Date of Birth,
you are throwing away valuable information for a criminal.
- Do you invite strangers into your home? Consider putting away all sensitive documents when unknown people like the appliance repair person, cable installer, or internet technician enters your home. It’s very easy to have your
guard down while you are in your own home and leave out sensitive information.
- Do you have password protected Wi-fi? In order to keep your information protected, you need to have password protected Wi-fi. Thieves could drive right past your home and access your Wi-fi and steal from you without ever entering
- Is your password “strong”? We might sound repetitive if you’ve read some of our other JHFCU articles. However, a strong password is your first line of defense in many cases! Always use complex passwords that also meet the established password requirements – creating a phrase you will remember like “Ilovecoffeeinthemorningwithespresso!” is more secure for your accounts. You may also be asked to change your password from time to time, or should consider changing it yourself.