10 Ways to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
As the incidence of data breaches continues to skyrocket around the world, it’s important to know how to prevent and protect yourself from identity theft.
With fraud costing the UK economy an estimated £193 billion a year, identity theft is a growing threat to individuals at work and at home. The number of victims of identity theft rose by 57% last year, figures from fraud prevention service Cifas suggest.
The data, taken from 261 companies in the UK, suggests fraudsters are increasingly getting people's personal information from social media sites.
Cifas said Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn had become a "hunting ground" for identity thieves. While thieves continue to steal information by phone, post and in person, the report found that 86% of identity fraud occurred online.
Identity theft is the collection of someone else’s personal information for criminal purposes. Identity fraud is the actual impersonation and misuse of debit or credit card data and other information.
Cifas says that all age groups are at risk, and it encourages everyone to make it more difficult for fraudsters.
Here are 10 ways to prevent identity theft.
Tidy up. A Clean Desk Policy at work and home stipulates that confidential information is not left out in the open for anyone to steal. Sort documents, and keep them safe and locked away.
Carry less ID. Individuals should carry only the identification and cards that are needed. Thieves are most interested in credit cards, but any ID such as passports helps create a profile.
Protect electronics. Use firewalls, anti-spyware, and other cyber security on all devices. Keep software and systems up-to-date and patched.
Be smart on social media. Sharing personal information on digital platforms can leave you open to fraudsters. Avoid posting confidential information, set security settings, and never accept unknown friend requests.
Keep track of financial accounts. Keep an eye on bank and other accounts for unauthorised changes, charges, or withdrawals. If possible, sign up for account alerts.
Protect PINs and passwords. When making transactions at ATMs, cash registers and on portable devices, be sure others aren’t watching. Conduct all sensitive transactions on secure networks.
Don’t get phished. Never respond to unsolicited requests for personal information by phone, mail or online. It could be a phishing scam – and linking or opening an attachment might download a virus.
Be a smart online shopper. E-commerce shoppers in the study had the highest prevalence of fraud (although they caught it quickly too). Enable two-factor authentication, create strong passwords, and use a secure network.
Protect your documents. All paper documents that are no longer needed should be securely shredded and then recycled by a trustworthy document destruction company.
Dispose of obsolete technology. Don’t stockpile old computers or mobile devices. They should also be securely destroyed by a document destruction company.
A protected workplace systematically protects every document from creation to disposal – here’s how to do it.
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