The FTC (Federal Trade Commission) reported $5.8 billion in losses in 2021 due to identity theft and impostor scams. Having your identity stolen is not just a financial issue, it can take weeks, even months, to restore your identity and recover from the damages. You may believe you are extremely careful with private and sensitive information, but our data is everywhere: on paper, on databases, in filing cabinets, on hard drives, and even floating around in cyberspace. In the wrong hands, that information can be used to steal your identity and rob you of everything.
The best solution is to decrease the chances of having your identity stolen in the first place. Here are five tips to protect your identity:
1. SHRED EVERYTHING!
Number one on the list is SHRED, SHRED, SHRED! If a document has even a small piece of personal information on it, don’t throw it away or recycle it — SHRED IT!
- • There are many document shredders you can purchase for small jobs
• For bulk shredding or routine shredding, hire a shredding service for your home and business.
• Hire an e-waste destruction service that will render old hard drives, tablets, or phones useless to anyone who might want to use your information for illicit purposes.
2. IDENTITY PROTECTION SERVICES AND CREDIT REPORTS
There are several options when it comes to identity protection services. While these companies can’t stop identity thieves completely, they can help you restore your identity and recover from an attack.
- • Some companies offer insurance and will cover losses.
• Request your credit report from one of the three credit agencies, TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. These reports can help you uncover any unauthorized activity on your accounts.
3. CHANGE THAT PASSWORD
Unfortunately, data breaches are a common occurrence these days, so it’s important to change your passwords and make sure they are hard to guess.
- • Don’t use the same password for multiple website or app log-ins.
• If your password is compromised on one website or app, you risk having all of your information stolen.
• If possible, install a VPN to prevent others from spying on your online activity.
• Using a trustworthy antivirus and security app will keep dangerous Trojan horses, worms, and other viruses that can steal passwords or data off your devices.
4. DON’T GET FOOLED
There are many instances where you might need to give out personal information over the phone or online. Always make sure you are dealing with a legitimate company. Anyone with a cellphone or a computer have been prey to an attempted phishing attempt or some other online scam. Remember:
- • Never give out your social security numbers or credit card information to someone over the phone unless you initiated the encounter.
• The IRS or Social Security Administration is going to reach out to you by phone.
• If you get an email saying your account is suspended, Do NOT respond to that email. Instead, call the number for that company so you know you are reaching an actual representative.
• If a tech support “expert” calls you to “help” you with an issue on your computer, hang up and call back to ensure this is a legitimate call.
5. LOCK IT UP!
This may seem obvious, but keeping your documents in a safe is a simple method to keep private information out of the hands of identity thieves. Here are a few ideas:
- • Secure a safe deposit box at a bank
• Use a locked drawer to store social security cards, passports, birth certificates, tax returns, and other documents when not in use.
• Protect your clients’ information in locked cabinets
• Activate the lock-screen on your cell phone when it’s not in use.
• Consider switching to a form of biometric security for your lock-screen, like fingerprint scanning or facial recognition identification. Cell phones are a treasure trove of information for would-be thieves. A four-digit PIN may not be enough security.
Protecting private information has never been more important, and Marshall Shredding makes protecting sensitive information our #1 concern. We provide on-site shredding and e-waste destruction services, and we use a video monitoring system so you can be sure the job is done to your complete satisfaction. We also recycle 100% of what we shred so you don’t have to worry about any negative environmental impact.
Share these tips with your friends and reach out to Marshall Shredding today for a quick-quote, and we will customize a destruction plan to fit your needs.