Identity theft is one of the biggest threats of modern online citizenship. On one hand, we socialize and share our information for work, services, and friends. On the other hand, if a hacker gets ahold of too much of your personal data, they can pretend to be you for nefarious purposes like stealing your money or committing crimes in your name.
Here are our top nine ways to defend your identity.
1. Lock Your Phone and Computer
Make sure your personal devices default to a lock-screen when not in use. You can use almost any kind of security measure, from photo-passwords to PIN numbers, just make sure that a phone thief couldn't steal your identity by stealing your device.
2. Use >Good> Passwords
Do not use your favorite flower as your password or your child's birthday as your pin. Put some effort into it. Use the acronym method for passwords and choose numbers that you have irrational feelings about (we like 8s and 5s) for PINs. Trust a pro.
3. Sign Up for 2-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication can mean many things. Most of all, it means that your email or phone gets a notification every time a security-check is needed to login or make a change. This is vital. Two-factor authentication can both stop a hacker in their tracks and let you know that someone is trying to hack one of your accounts.
4. Keep Personal Documents & Data Private
Do not share your most personal information. Never post anything that shows your social security number, your driver's license number, your home address, etc. In the Internet world, that kind of sharing is called "Doxxing yourself" and essentially makes it easy for someone to A) find you or B) pretend to be you. Don't make it easy for the hackers to get this info, keep it off the Internet and out of casual conversation.
5. Don't Fall for Phishing Tactics and Online Scams
Phishing is the art of tricking people into sharing their information or exposing their accounts. Don't fall for scams. Make sure you're always talking to the real person, not a fake account with a friend's name on it. Hackers sometimes also pose as customer support personnel and try to "support" you into sharing private information.
6. Never Share Your Passwords, PINs, or One-Time Codes
Along those lines, never tell anyone your password or your pin. If someone asks for a one-time code that was just sent to you, they are a hacker. These are three things that a real business representative would never ask you, and your friends and coworkers don't need to know. Simply never share these things, because there is never a good reason why someone is asking.
7. Don't Use Paper Checks for Anything
Paper checks were once the primary vector for identity theft and the loss of personal money. A check has your name, your bank, and your account number all written out, whether the check is to or from you. If you can help it, simply never use paper checks for anything.
8. Be Careful Who You Shop From
Do not shop from just any e-commerce store on the internet. Some of these are hacker spoof sites that will take your information and either use or sell it for identity theft. Make sure you are dealing with legitimate online retailers using safe, reputable websites before entering your payment and shipping information for an online purchase.
9. Monitor Your Identity and Credit Cards
Finally, monitor your situation. Use one of the many available services to keep track of your identity and the use of all of your credit cards. Get alerted if "you" pop up anywhere on the internet or if "you" are spending in places and ways that you never would. Identity monitoring is your last line of defense, and our best avenue toward catching these crooks red-handed in the act.
If you are burdened with high amounts of credit card debt and are struggling to make your payments, or you’re just not seeing your balances go down, call Timberline Financial today for a free financial analysis.
Our team of highly skilled professionals will evaluate your current situation to see if you may qualify for one of our debt relief programs. You don’t have to struggle with high-interest credit card debt any longer.