We’re all at risk of identity fraud every day, but we can do things to limit that risk.  Most of us do things in our everyday life than unnecessarily expose ourselves to identity theft and fraud.  Below are the top 5 things we fail to do to protect ourselves from identity theft and fraud.

  1. Failure to Limit How We Share on Social Media
    We all love sharing with our family and friends on social media, but when does it become too much sharing?

    Identity thieves look for people they can build an in-depth profile on.  Think about the critical pieces of information someone needs to prove they are you and take over one of your accounts.  What kind of information are you asked for when you want to do a password reset on let’s say your online checking account?  They ask for your birthdate, where you were born, what college did you attend, where did you met your spouse, and what’s your mother’s maiden name.  Then think about what kind of information do we put on Facebook profile? Hmm, it’s our birthday, what town we’re from, what college did you graduate from, where did you and your spouse first meet, what was your mother’s maiden name.  It all seems harmless when you’re doing it. After all, these are your family and friends they would never hurt you. But if you’re not using the security features of your favorite social media site the casual onlooker can easily pick most if not all that information off of your posts.  Some of us even post our first pets name. Essentially we’re giving the identity thief the keys to our online identity.

    Big hint, to minimize the risk use the security features social media provides and limit who can see that personal information, and secondly limit the specifics of what you post in the first place.  You never know who’s out to get you.

  2. Failure to Safeguard Our Social Security Number
    Now that we’ve given the answers to all of our security questions to identity thieves on social media they’ll still be stumped when they have to provide a social security number or a drivers license number, right?  Well if we’re careless, the bad guys probably have that information too. Your social security number can appear on all kinds of snail mail correspondence with government agencies, insurance companies, etc. Most of us provide our social security number when requested much too easily.  Some of us even carry around our social security card in our wallet. If we lose that wallet, we’ve given away the farm. An identity thief now has your SSN, driver’s license, number, and your home address at a minimum.

  3. Failure to Create Strong Passwords
    Passwords we all hate them.  More and more we’re forced to create passwords that are completely unmemorable let almost impossible to type.  However, they are the first line of defense against identity fraud. Weak passwords are subject to brute force attacks that simply run through all the frequently used word combinations and can guess a simple password in a very short amount of time.  Also how often do we use the same password across multiple sites? Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook was recently compromised doing precisely that. Complex therefore strong unguessable passwords that are unique for every site login to are our friends.  A daunting task for sure, unless you have a flawless memory, but there are solutions for those of us have trouble remembering the simplest of things. They’re called password managers, they’re inexpensive and allow you to have the most complex gnarly passwords imaginable for each site you log in to, but only one simple password you have to enter on your device.  The password manager does all the heavy lifting.

  4. Failure to Use Caution When Shopping and Dining
    Identity thieves seem to have an unlimited number of schemes to steal our credit card numbers.  They range from the very low tech of your waiter lifting your credit card number when they disappear into the back of the restaurant when you give your credit card to pay for your meal, to a RFID bump scanner that can read the data off all your credit cards in your walled by simple standing a few inches from you in someplace the checkout line at the grocery store.  There are various ways to protect yourself from this type of identity theft. Pay cash at a restaurant when possible, get RFID scan blocking cards for your wallet, and be wary of devices you insert your card into at the gas station or ATM. Thieves often will stick on an additional scanner on top of the merchant's scanner, so they capture your information when you pay or use the ATM.

  5. Failure to Monitor Credit Reports
    When we’re not actively in the credit market, buying a car, applying for a mortgage, or opening a new credit account, we’re not likely to even think about what our credit score might be or what credit activity is happening on our credit reports.  But this is precisely when we must be vigilant. For identity thieves to be successful, our guard must be down. They need time to open the new accounts and get value from them in order for them to profit. Shut them down immediately by signing up for a credit monitoring and alerting service.  If you receive a message there’s been a credit inquiry run on you or a new loan has been opened in your name. You can immediately dispute the attempt and stop it before any significant damage is done.

Often we’re our own worst enemy when it comes to preventing ourselves from becoming a victim of identity fraud.  Identity Armor is your partner in identity theft protection. We offer a family of products focused on keeping your identity safe and stopping identity fraud before it starts.