hand of a man scrolling on a laptop with a credit card in his other hand potentially trying to steal an identity

Personal Security Tips for Preventing Identity Theft

Protecting yourself from identity theft is important since it’s a growing issue each year. Thankfully, there are some things that you can do, to help keep yourself safe from criminals. These personal security tips are easy and may help decrease the chance of a criminal stealing your personal data.  

Avoid Phishing Scams

Phishing, pronounced like “fishing,” is the activity of defrauding someone online by pretending to be a legitimate company and requesting certain information. These criminals attempt to appear as your bank, a credit company, or some other important institution that is likely to warrant a response. There is no reason for you to give out your personal information online to anyone. If you suspect that the claim could be real, contact the company directly and affirm that the request is real. Use a contact number you’re familiar with to be sure you’re calling the right business.

Shred Important Documents

You may be used to throwing out old bank statements or pay stubs, but this can be dangerous. Criminals can use this information to steal your identity. One of the most important things you can do to protect yourself is to purchase a paper shredder and shred any documents you may think are important. This can include bank statements, any paperwork with your social security on it, printed forms of your bank account numbers, and paystubs. If you aren’t sure the documents have valuable information, always check and shred just to be sure. 

Browse Carefully

Some criminals create mock websites or install malware onto your computer without you knowing it. These fake sites and programs are used to pull the information you input across the web. One example is a key-logging software what records your credit card number when you shop online. You should only type in personal data if the site starts with “https.” Also, consider purchasing software that prevents key-logging.

Check Your Records

Identity theft can start with a stolen social security number, but it can also be a withdraw from your bank account or a falsified report on your credit history. These are all signs that your identity could be compromised and you should take direct action. The sooner you spot the fraud, the faster you can stop it. To do this, check your credit history and bank account statements on a regular basis to be sure everything is accurate.   

Subscribe to Protection Services

If you are particularly worried, you can subscribe to a company like LifeLock, Identity Guard, or IdentityForce. These three businesses help prevent identity theft and help keep you safe from criminals. Each company has various plans, and it can be hard to know which to choose. We’ve broken down the services for each of these businesses to help people decide if their services would assist them in staying safe. You can read our overview of services for LifeLock, Identity Guard, and IdentityForce to figure out which plan could be right for your budget.

Last Updated: December 13, 2018