IIAccording to a 2018 online poll, close to 60 million Americans have fallen victim to some form of identity theft. This leads to not only financial losses but a mess in terms of the widespread reach of what a scammer can do with your personal information. From captured credit card numbers to stolen Social Security numbers and beyond, Florida residents can be exposed in many ways.
The most common kinds of identity theft involve credit cards, employment or tax-related fraud, bank fraud, phone fraud, and lease or loan fraud.
Living in the modern age with many transactions per day possibly recorded through your bank, online portals, and credit cards, it’s important to pay attention to how to protect your identity. There are a few key steps you can implement to decrease your chances of fraud.
Sign Up for Bank Alerts
Thanks to mobile banking and text messages, the most common way for people to be notified about suspected fraud is when their bank flags it and reaches out to the customer. This first line of defense puts all the responsibility on the bank to monitor strange charges but does empower you to respond quickly if your phone is nearby when a charge looks suspicious is attempted.
At the very minimum, check to see what kind of fraud alerts your bank has- responding to these quickly can stop a scammer in their tracks. Most fraud involves multiple charges in quick succession with the purpose of racking up lost money before you have a chance to stop it. Your bank will reach out to you with a message and give you the option to cancel the card in question.
Protect Mobile Data
If you’re like most people, you store a lot of personal data on your phone. If you leave your phone behind at a restaurant or have it stolen out of your car, this can give the thieves the keys to your kingdom.
Sign up for two-factor identification whenever you can and enable authenticator apps so it’s hard for someone to get into your personal accounts. Remember that if you’ve signed up for public Wi-Fi, someone might be able to access your personal information that you’re sharing over that network while you use your computer.
Upgrade Your Password Protection
Don’t use the same passwords across different passwords. Storing your passwords in an easily accessed online spreadsheet or written down in your wallet. Make sure that you have passwords on your computer, phone, all financial accounts, and anywhere else it’s an option. When these are all password-protected and different from one account to another, it makes it harder or requires more of an effort from identity thieves to nab your info.
Don’t Give Out Personal Information
Always be suspicious of any phone call, text, or email message that’s asking for your Social Security Number, banking details, or other personal information. Most government agencies will not ever call you and leave threatening voicemails about providing your personal information, but these scams are more prevalent than ever.
Be particularly mindful about the IRS- they only communicate with taxpayers over the mail and not through phone calls or text messages.
Opt into Paid Credit Monitoring
Most people don’t sign up for a paid credit monitoring service, but this small investment could pay off in spades if you were targeted for significant fraud. While you can take advantage of free credit reports from the major agencies once a year, it might be worth the upgrade if you think you’ve been exposed to identity theft in the past. You’ll have a better chance of being notified about these problems as soon as possible.
Freeze Your Credit and Watch Your Mailbox
If you’re not planning on taking out any major loans in the near future, you can freeze your credit with all three of the major reporting bureaus. This means that no one can open a new account unless you unfreeze your credit. It’s free to contact each of these bureaus on your own and offers firm protection.
Keep an eye on your mailbox, since this is a common way for thieves to grab your information from right out in front of your house. A lockable mailbox approved by the USPS might be worth the investment.
If you need more support in understanding how to respond when your identity was stolen or when you were the victim of a data breach. Contact the dedicated personal injury lawyers at Berman Law Group today at 561-660-9995 to discuss your rights under the law and the best way to move forward.
The Berman Law Group
3351 NW Boca Raton Blvd
Boca Raton, FL 33431
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