Each year, more and more Americans are falling victim to identity theft. In 2016, over 15 million Americans were affected by identity theft, and according to data collected from the Federal Trade Commission, in 2016 Texas ranked 12th in identity theft complaints when compared to other states.
So, what can you do to protect yourself? We’ve compiled a short list of easy tips and tricks that you can use to make it a little more difficult for a would-be identity thief.
Be careful what you post online.
After the introduction of micro-chipped credit cards, many criminals are turning to other means to assume a person’s identity. A common way this is done is to simply open a financial account using another’s personal information. Many people do not realize that what they post online could be just the information these criminals need.
Change passwords often.
No one likes having to remember a new set of passwords every few months, but changing your passwords frequently can help keep identity thieves off your tail. Make sure your new passwords are unique from each other and different from other passwords you might have used in the past.
Don’t go phishing.
Phishing is when someone claiming to be a trustworthy source (a bank, the IRS, etc.) requests a person’s personal information. Be wary of any calls or emails you might receive from sources like this. Remember, real companies would never request personal information from you unless first requesting you to sign into your secure account. If you receive an unsolicited email from someone you suspect to be phishing, forward it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Unfortunately, identity theft can still happen to those who protect themselves. Many banks and financial services offer protections to their customers, but if you find yourself at the mercy of an identity thief, alert your bank immediately. If necessary, contact the IRS Identity Protection Unit at 1.800.908.4490.