Last night I dreamt that my wallet was stolen. I awoke with a start, not concerned about the $25 in cash that may have gone missing but more worried about the credit cards, my license, and other personal information that could lead to identity theft. Needless to say, I was thankful to wake up and realize that my wallet was safe but there are many other ways that personal information can be compromised and lead to identity theft.
Disclosure: This post was sponsored LifeLock through their partnership with Circle of Moms. While I was compensated to share the video below, all opinions are my own.
Identity theft occurs when your personal information is used without your permission to commit fraud or other crimes using your name, address, Social Security Number, or credit card information. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center (ITRC), the Federal Trade Commission reports that identity theft is the number one consumer complaint with incidences increasing 32% over 2011. LifeLock states that over 8 million Americans were victims of identity theft in 2011– a number higher than the entire population of Virginia!
Not only may you already be a victim of identity theft without knowing it, but there are multiple types of identity theft. The effects of identity theft include criminals using yours to open new lines of credit, drain savings and retirement accounts, seek medical assistance, get a job and file false tax returns, and provide your identity as their alias when arrested.
Protect your personal identity using these 6 tips:
- Watch your credit score— One of the best ways to keep an eye on your personal information is to keep a watchful eye on your credit report and credit score.
- Shop smart— Online shopping can provide convenience but it’s also a hassle if your information has been phished. To prevent this, always look for a security seal and https in the URL before entering in personal information.
- Don’t share your personal information— Did you know that you don’t have to give up personal information to businesses, doctor’s offices, and even forms sent home by your child’s school? Ask if the information is really necessary since even adding birth dates to forms can put you at risk.
- Strengthen your passwords— The best passwords use a combination of numbers, symbols, and uppercase letters and are changed regularly to prevent accounts from being hacked.
- Lock up your government IDs— Social Security Cards and passports don’t need to be carried with you regularly. Lock up these official documents since they can be difficult to replace.
- Stay alert— High tech thieves are always working to steal your personal information electronically through skimming credit card information at checkout, shoulder surfing by looking you’re your shoulder and snapping photos of your accounts, and phishing for your identity through email, websites, texting, and phone calls.