Use a product like ShredXP to make sure that data on hard drives is completely destroyed. For CD, DVD or tape media you should physically destroy it by breaking or shattering it before disposing of it. Be diligent about checking statements and pay bills at the post office. This actually has two benefits.
Second, you can ensure that the charges, purchases or other entries on the statement are legitimate and match up with your records so that you can quickly identify and address any suspicious activity. If you aren't using online banking to pay your bills, listen up: Never leave paid bills in your mailbox to be sent out. A thief who raids your mailbox would be able to acquire a slew of critical information in one envelope — your name, address, credit account number, your bank information including the routing number and account number from the bottom of the check, and a copy of your signature from your check for forgery purposes just for starters.
Encrypt your email and messaging. All of the data you send in messages or through email is at risk if you aren't using end-to-end encryption for security.
That means only the sender and receiver can read the information. Combine this with fingerprint ID or a password lock on a device to ensure that you're extra safe. Require 2-Factor Authentication on financial and social media accounts.
Even social media accounts should have two-factor authentication enabled. If someone does happen to obtain a password, for instance, they would still need a second, corresponding piece of information to actually get into an account. Analyze your credit report annually.
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10 Ways to Prevent, Detect, and Fight Identity Theft The good news is you can greatly reduce your risk by acting quickly when your personal. A how-to with 10 tips to help you maintain your privacy and protect your personal data to avoid being the victim of identity theft.
Change passwords frequently on all accounts, use a password manager , and turn on two-factor authentication wherever possible. Check activity regularly for any account that involves money, not just bank and credit cards.
For example, regularly check statements from your mobile carrier to make sure additional devices or services haven't been added. Whenever a data breach makes headlines, scammers piggyback on the news by sending out fake emails to already jittery consumers, containing bogus fraud alerts and fake password-reset links.
Treat every email you get about a potential data breach, or warning about potential fraud, with skepticism. Don't ever click on a link or open an attachment in a data-breach-notification email message.
Make sure your computer and mobile devices are running the latest versions of their operating systems and software, as well as up-to-date versions of anti-virus software. Don't use Windows XP or Windows Vista systems for online shopping or banking, because Microsoft no longer supports those operating systems with security patches.
Patches for Windows 7 end in January Consider using super-secure "hardened" browsers or virtual software when accessing sensitive accounts.
Identity theft doesn't always require a computer. Professional identity thieves know that garbage cans and company dumpsters are rich troves of financial documents, including canceled checks and credit card and bank statements. Don't toss out your identity with the trash — instead, shred anything sensitive before you throw it away. Clean out your personal information before getting rid of old PCs, tablets and smartphones.
It is surprisingly easy for someone to get access to personal data if the hard drive hasn't been totally reformatted and cleaned. Ask your financial institution to email you whenever funds are transferred out of your account. If your credit card company offers an alert service for suspicious charges, take it.