With the rise of technology, it’s never been more important to keep your personal identity and your money secure. Hackers can find your personal data and bust into your bank accounts, and more to get ahold of your money. Are you keeping yourself secure?
Here are 10 ways to secure your personal identity and, ultimately, keep your hard earned dollars safe.
1) Shred Private Documents
It may seem obvious, but shredding private documents goes a long way in protecting your identity. Simply tossing personal documents is not enough – your trash crosses paths with many people, and you never know who might see your information.
Keep your files up-to-date and shred any documents or mail that has your personal information on it. Personal information includes your name, social security number, address, birth date, bank account numbers, and more.
2) Create Unique Passwords
Though most people are guilty of using the same password for multiple accounts, a creative and unique password is the first line of defense in protecting yourself against hackers. For your protection, use a different password for every account – whether that’s your online banking accounts or your social media profiles. Include a mixture of letters and numbers and try to incorporate various symbols.
Fortunately, there are apps like LastPass that securely store your passwords, so you don’t have to try to remember each unique passcode.
3) Lock Your Devices
Your phone, laptop, tablet, and desktop store a wealth of your personal data – and potentially automatically stored passwords to your bank accounts. One of the easiest ways to keep your information safe is to keep your devices locked and secured at all times.
While it may be time-consuming to lock and unlock your device between every use, it really is one of the only surefire ways to protect your personal information.
4) Use a Fireproof Safe
Using a fireproof safe is the best way to store personal documents in your home. You never know what could happen, and a fireproof, lockable safe can keep your identity safe, no matter the situation.
You can purchase a fireproof safe for a few dollars at a hardware store or supermarket. To keep your identity safe, keep your passport, social security cards, birth certificates, and any other private or important financial documents stashed away.
5) Use WiFi Wisely
While WiFi is abundant, it’s still a good idea to exercise caution when accessing private information on a public network. Coffee shops, hotels, libraries, and other public spaces all utilize the same network, making it easier for hackers to access any personal information you input while on the shared WiFi.
Though most websites are now secure and protected, that doesn’t mean that all of your information is safe. To ensure the protection of your data, avoid checking private bank accounts and other secure data over a public network.
6) Invest in Anti-Virus Protection
For a few dollars, you can purchase anti-virus, firewall, and anti-spyware protection for your computers. These types of software can help prevent hackers from accessing your personal information and passwords.
Even if you aren’t a computer buff, you can easily purchase software and set it to automatically scan your computer for viruses and trojans on a regular basis.
7) Safeguard Your Social Security Number
It seems like whenever you sign up for anything nowadays, they immediately ask for your social security number. Unfortunately, every time you share your social security number, you put yourself at a risk for identity theft.
The best way to protect yourself is to ask if you can use an alternative form of identification before you give someone your social security number. Often times, birth dates or driver’s license numbers provide adequate identification.
Many companies, such as doctor’s offices, need your social security number in order to provide you service. While you likely won’t be able to see the doctor without providing your personal information, you can still use caution. If you see files and other personal information strewn about an office, it’s probably time to find another, more secure doctor.
8) Be Wary of Social Media
Social media is a part of life in today’s world, but sharing too much personal information can put you and your identity at risk.
If a hacker wanted to steal your identity, he or she could go to your social media profiles to find additional information about you. To prevent identity theft, avoid sharing any private information, such as your phone number and address. The less you share, the more secure you will be.
9) Consider Switching to Credit
Credit cards aren’t linked directly to your bank account, so they are often considered safer than a debit card. If your identity was ever stolen from your credit card information, your credit company acts as a barrier and will advocate for you.
If you currently use credit cards, consider asking for an updated card with a chip. The new chip technology is considered safer than the old magnetic strips, since the magnets store all of your personal information.
To add an additional layer of protection, you can also consider switching to a new credit card company that offers temporary card numbers. These temporary numbers are ideal for purchasing items online. After using one number, it will expire, so all of your personal information remains safe.
10) Create an Identity Theft Plan
No matter how many precautions you take, it is still possible for your identity to get stolen in the future. It’s important to be proactive, but to also have a reactive plan in the event that your identity or money does get stolen.
Identity theft could happen in hundreds of different ways. It could be as major as your company got hacked, resulting in your information being stolen. Or, you could simply lose your wallet, potentially allowing your personal information to get into the wrong hands.
You can further protect yourself by creating a plan of action if your personal data is lost or stolen. Here are a few ways you can react if you are encountering an identity breach:
- Check your credit reports regularly. Keep credit bureau contact information handy ifyour identity is stolen.
- Save a copy of all of your credit/debit card statements and keep track of your activity.
- Keep a list of all of your online accounts and passwords.
- Give a trusted family member or friend access to your personal information in case of an emergency.