Identity theft was the number one complaint to the Federal Trade Commission in 2014. This ranking should not come as a surprise; identity theft has remained the top consumer complaint for fifteen consecutive years.
No matter how pervasive identity crimes may be, there is a time-tested method for defending against them — take proactive measures early on.
Proactive measures entail locking down personal information to secure it, routinely monitoring your accounts and putting effective restoration processes into place before you experience a fraud event. These aspects make up EZShield’s comprehensive identity theft solution — secure, monitor and restore.
Now implementing this three-part system in your life might seem like a daunting task, but you don’t have to do it alone.
As the Best Overall Identity Protection Services Leader since 2013, in addition to ranking first in both prevention and resolution, EZShield can help you stay one step ahead of fraud and identity theft with these invaluable protection tips:
Cybersecurity is a hot topic in the identity theft realm, and for good reason. Think of all of your information-saturated online accounts: email, online shopping, social media and more are filled to the brim with personal and sometimes even financial information.
Lock down these accounts by removing information from sites you don’t frequent, enable two-factor authentication when possible and provide only what information is necessary when creating accounts.
The golden rule of cybersecurity is to always create strong, unique passwords. Strong passwords combine length, complexity, and special characters. Each online account should have its very own password, and all passwords should be stored in a secure location. Passwords should never be kept in an unencrypted computer file or written down and stored in your wallet, desk or other unsecure place.
For the greatest safekeeping, use a secure password manager. EZShield’s Wallet provides a convenient way to manage and safeguard your various login credentials. Access this secure asset from your computer or on-the-go with your DashAccess mobile app.
Be Shredder and Storage Savvy
While cybercrime might be a current trend among identity crimes, old-fashioned fraud is still just as common. Stolen documents and unsecured papers remain top sources for identity thieves to acquire information for committing identity crimes. Use a crosscut shredder to dispose of anything that has signatures, account numbers, Social Security numbers or legal or medical information.
Before shredding, scan vital documents into your computer and upload them to a secure online storage facility. That way, this information is always at hand without being at risk of falling into the hands of an identity thief. One such encrypted option for storage is Vault, a feature of having an online EZShield account that provides a digital safe to secure your most important paperwork and credentials.
You Must Be Well-versed to Be Scam-adverse
Phishing, vishing and social engineering — what does it all mean? To stay one step ahead of these persistent threats, it’s vital to know your enemy and the many tactics they use.
Phishing is when a scammer poses as a legitimate person or business online (commonly through email) with the intention of stealing money or personal information. Vishing is similar, but is executed over the phone. While social engineering is the manipulative techniques behind both of these scams.
The end-game of any scam artist is getting a hold of your Social Security number. These nine magic numbers allow thieves to abuse your financial, personal, criminal and even medical records. Never provide your Social Security number over the phone. And be wary of online requests for your Social Security number, being sure to verify their legitimacy.
Your Information Is Already Out There
Your personal information, the information identity thieves can manipulate to hurt you financially, is everywhere. Nearly every business, doctor’s office and school stores detailed personal files digitally, so it’s no wonder that criminal patterns have quickly followed suit.
Data breaches are increasingly common at these facilities due to hacking, malware or phishing attempts. Because these points of access are out of your control, it may take months for many people to find out when their personal information has been compromised, leaving the identity thief ample time to use your good name at no fault of your own.
So what should you do? Monitor, monitor, monitor!
Monitoring is one of the most effective proactive measures. On your own, you should monitor bank statements and your credit file for suspicious activity. Report any fraudulent activity to your bank immediately. You are also entitled to one free credit report a year, pull credit reports from all three national bureaus and review them for discrepancies at AnnualCreditReport.com.
While these DIY measures are helpful, they’re far from full proof. Some identity thieves mask their fraudulent endeavors by intertwining their own information with your good name or Social Security number. This form of identity theft aims at leveraging the legitimate records associated with your Security number while still using the other parts of the criminal’s identity.
To help fill in gaps in your protection, individuals should engage the services of an identity protection provider to acquire advanced monitoring of their personal information. EZShield offers options for public records monitoring, sex offender monitoring, name and address monitoring, information monitoring on online black markets and more.
With this added protection, consumers can rest easier knowing that even when information is out of their hands it’s still in their control.
Why Act Now?
Resolution can be a waiting game. If you do it alone, you’ll face a plethora of touch points — from your bank and the credit bureaus to your local police and the FTC. You’ll need to contact each entity individually in order to restore your identity, and that takes time. By investing a few minutes today, you’ll save yourself weeks, months and even years of hassle down the road.
And this hassle will always be lurking in the shadows. The sad truth about identity fraud and identity theft is that it’s impossible to completely eliminate. So it’s critical to have a backup plan in case you do become a victim of identity crime. In addition to taking the proactive steps of securing and monitoring your information, you need a strategy for restoring your information if it gets compromised. For the ultimate peace of mind, take advantage of fraud protection like EZShield that includes dedicated resolution specialists to provide support when you need it most.
We hope these proactive measures will help you secure, monitor and restore your personal information as you take a stand in the fight against identity crimes. For more information on identity theft and fraud, visit FightingIdentityCrimes.com.
The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of EZShield Inc. alone and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of any other person or entity, including specifically any person or entity affiliated with the distribution or display of this content.