We want to help you stay uniquely you, which is why we’ve gathered some articles to give you better insight into identity theft and to help you understand how you can best protect yourself and your credit
From a coffee shop transaction first thing in the morning to a last-minute glance at Instagram before bed, we create dozens of data points throughout our day. Over time, these points accumulate to tell a story about us. They can explain where we’ve been, what we’ve bought, where we live, how much money we have – they are our identity in this data-driven world.
While to us, this data-based identity is merely an echo of who we really are, it can nonetheless be used to affect real change in our lives. In the wrong hands, our identifying information is enough to empty our bank accounts, build insurmountable debt and shatter our ability to borrow. In today’s connected world, it is impossible to move through life without leaving a wake of data behind you. Therefore, it’s extremely important to learn how to protect your identity.
Browse the web safely
According to a study cited in the Toronto Sun, Canadians spend more time online than any other nation in the world. Browsing the web has become so commonplace we often just set our brains on “autopilot,” and stop actively thinking about protecting our privacy. These tips can help improve your identity theft protection when surfing the web:
Don’t make sensitive transactions on the go. Public Wi-Fi networks are rarely as secure as the private connections you can establish at home, so it’s best to avoid making purchases or logging into online banking accounts from coffee shops, hotel lobbies or other areas that offer free Wi-Fi hotspots.
Protect your accounts with strong passwords. Like the keys to your house, your passwords are responsible for securing the contents of your accounts, which may include your credit card numbers, address, social insurance number or other personal information. You wouldn’t use a cheap lock on your front door, so don’t skimp on your password either.
Avoid oversharing: It can be tempting to fill out every field on your Facebook’s “About Me” page, to upload photos of yourself from your vacation destination or to get to know new friends online. As natural as it may feel to be completely transparent with your friends online, it’s important to remember that these behaviors can also make you vulnerable to identity theft. Before sharing something on social media, ask yourself, “Do people really need to know this information?”
Protect your physical assets
As important as it is to prioritize securing your digital identity, it is critical not to leave yourself vulnerable to ID theft due to physical burglary.
Shred unnecessary documents. Before throwing them away, shred any documents that contain personal identifying or financial information, such as your social insurance number, address, health records, bank account number or credit card information. Using a cross-shredder can further protect your identity by making it extremely difficult for even the most determined fraudsters to make any sense out of any shredded documents they might find in the dumpster.
Secure your home and office. When you are away from home, always lock the door even if you’re only running out of the house for a few minutes. To further deter crooks, install window locks and motion-activated lights. Moreover, make sure your home office, or wherever else you keep sensitive documents, is always secured with an additional lock.
Check your credit report
No matter how vigilant you are about protecting your identity, there is no way to guarantee it won’t be compromised. Performing regular credit checks can help you spot evidence of fraud you would have otherwise missed, giving you an opportunity to dispute the charges and make sure your credit score is accurate.
Take advantage of your free credit reports. Every 12 months, Canadians have the right to request a credit report from each of the credit bureaus free of charge. Whether you choose to view both at the same time or stagger them one every six months, regularly reviewing your credit report can help you stay aware of certain activity that may indicate fraud.
Sign up for a credit monitoring service. Credit monitoring companies can keep an eye on your credit files even when you can’t, notifying you of certain activity that may indicate fraud so that you can request a fraud alert and stop the ID thief in its tracks.
To learn more about how credit monitoring can help improve your identity theft protection, contact Credit Alert today!