How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft

It’s undoubtedly no surprise to anyone reading this, but identity theft is still a huge problem. It victimizes millions of people a year and takes a good amount of time and money to clear up. Collectively, identity theft costs both consumers and businesses billions. That means it’s in everyone’s best interest to learn how to remove personal information from Google and do everything else in their power to mitigate the threat of identity theft by keeping their personal information safe.

Shred Enthusiastically

One of the richest sources of information for identity thieves is personal mail. They will literally sort through trash to find bills, credit card applications, bank statements, and anything else with personal and financial information on it. Shred anything that has any of your useable personal information on it or that can be used to apply for a credit card, account, or to access or change banking information.

Erase as Much of Your Personal Information as Possible

Too few people are aware of the multi-billion-dollar data broker industry that specializes in storing and selling your personal information. Perhaps even fewer are aware that you can request that they delete your information. You can make those requests yourself, though there are dozens of data brokers, and many of them make the information removal requests as difficult as possible. Consider using a subscription service like DeleteMe to take your private details off data broker sites and to remove personal information from Google—and keep it removed year-round.

Check and Freeze Your Credit

Also not well-known is the option consumers have to contact the three big credit bureaus, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion, and request that their credit records be “frozen.” Freezing your credit restricts all access to your credit records until you contact the credit bureaus again and unfreeze your information. Each of the bureaus offers an app that allows you to lock and unlock your credit records whenever you want. You’re also entitled to one free credit check a year from each of the bureaus. Take advantage of that by checking your credit once every four months or so to ensure everything is in good standing.

Passwords and SSN: Keep Them Secret and Safe

Messages about keeping your passwords and social security number (SSN) safe are pretty common. Unfortunately, that ubiquity can result in those warnings being lost in the static of safety warnings. That’s a bad thing, as there’s virtually no gate that opens more directly to your finances and your most private information than passwords and your SSN. On the off-chance you’re not familiar with this information, be sure to use different passwords for different applications. Use complex passwords that incorporate symbols, numbers, and a change of case. Don’t use permutations of personal information (family members’ names, birthdays, and so on) or overly simple passwords such as “1234” or “password.” Give your SSN out only when absolutely necessary, and double-check requests for it to be sure they’re legitimate.

Read Your Mail

Reading mail seems like advice that doesn’t need to be given, but a lot of scammers take advantage of many consumers’ failure to read their mail thoroughly enough. Often just the basics are sufficient: Keep an eye out for new bills coming and old ones no longer coming. Go over your current bills and statements, looking for charges you don’t recognize and withdrawals you didn’t make. Anything you don’t recognize, changes without explanation, or something that strikes you as odd is worth looking into further. It’s better to find out more about a charge or change and make sure you’re the one who made it than risk losing money by ignoring it.

About DeleteMe

DeleteMe is an industry leader in ensuring data privacy and online security. From their base in Boston, DeleteMe has built their reputation in part by leveraging the expertise of their team of specialists and have succeeded in providing over 10 million consumer opt-outs. Their team has decades of collective experience in identity theft, privacy, and consumer security. They can aid in removal from Whitepages, other data broker sites, and Google, as well as payment security and other means to protects your personal and financial security.
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