National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month is the month for increasing awareness on identity theft and becoming more alert. December is National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month. It is an ideal time to think about identity theft, data breaches, and other fraud issues.
Identity theft is one of the most serious crimes and one of the most rapidly growing crimes. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), it is the top consumer fraud in the United States. The people who have not been its victims seem to take it lightly. Don’t underestimate identity theft. More importantly, don’t confuse it with credit card fraud. Identity theft covers everything. It covers all forms of fraud. Identity theft can happen to anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Therefore, National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month has been introduced. It spreads awareness about identity theft and preventive measures which should be incorporated. The National Identity Theft Prevention and Awareness Month reminds everyone that they need to be more alert about the security of their identity. This December become more educated on how to protect and prevent yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft.
Preventive Measures for Identity Theft
- Secure all your personal and financial documents in a safe place. This is important both at your home and workplace.
- While going out, always carry a limited number of items. Carry only those cards which you really require at that time. Never carry your Social Security Card unless you absolutely require it. If you lose any of your cards, you’ll be worried unnecessarily. You’ll also make it too easy for a criminal to access your information.
- Don’t unnecessarily share your information. Before you give information at your workplace, your child’s school, or to your doctor, ask few things. Ask them why they need the information, how they will store it and the consequences of not providing the information. For example, most doctors will ask for your Social Security Number (SSN). But this is not always compulsory since patients are generally identified by their medical ID number.
- Make sure to regularly update your passwords for all your online and banking accounts. Make your passwords are strong and unique by using different passwords for each and every account.
- Close any unauthorized or compromised bank or credit card accounts. Cancel such credit cards.
- Think about what other personal information could be at risk. Contact corresponding agencies depending on the type of theft. For example, if a thief has access to your SSN, you should contact the Social Security Administration. If your driver’s license or your car documents are stolen then contact your state Department of Motor Vehicles.
- Shred all papers before disposing of them.
- Use password manager. The password manager allows you to create and store any number of passwords. You just have to remember the master password.
- Be very careful while making purchases through cards at stores. Make sure that no one is looking behind your back. Cover the swipe machine with your other hand while entering your PIN.
- Never respond to unsolicited emails requesting personal information.
- Keep things streamlined and organized. This makes it easier to notice when something isn’t right. For instance, it’s much simpler to track one credit card than to track six.
- Monitor all your accounts and statements regularly for errors or signs of fraud. Sign up for text alerts.
- It required, contact your bank or other financial institutions to freeze your accounts so that no one could access your financial resources.
- Never provide personal information over the phone, especially without verifying the identity of the person on the other side of the line.
- While downloading any software, if you find any software which you weren’t looking for, don’t install it. If you installed any software, update it from time to time. If you no longer need any particular software, uninstall it. Follow appropriate cyber hygiene routine.
- Download material only from trusted websites.
- Use anti-virus and anti-spyware software on your PC. Always keep it updated and run a weekly scan.
- Make use of firewalls on your network.