There are plenty of people who want to do malicious things with your data. Criminal organizations will go to great lengths to get your hands on your personal information, such as your bank accounts, date of birth, and credit card numbers. There are many tools and signs you should be aware of to prevent identity theft in the future.
Useful Tools you can Use to Protect Yourself
Identity theft can strike when you least expect it, so it’s essential you stay ahead of hackers by being prepared. You can use powerful identity theft protection software, like Identity Guard, to keep an eye on your statements, so you can notice small data breaches before they become severe. Here are some other ways you can protect yourself:
- Make sure all of your software and apps are updated
- Only download apps from reputable companies
- Avoid jailbreaking your phone and other cracking risks
- Lock your SIM card and your phone with a passcode
- If your phone is breached, use its integrated kill switch
- If you lose your phone, contact your phone company
- Keep copies of important files off of your smartphone
- Use a VPN on unsecured WiFi or avoid them altogether.
- Check security settings on all websites (must have an SSL)
- Don’t click on random links unless it’s from a trusted source
Common Signs of Identity Theft
It’s possible you’re already a victim of identity theft. Any intelligent criminal won’t just steal all of your money at once – that’s too obvious. Instead, they will make small security breaches that will go unnoticed until it’s too late. Check for these signs your information is compromised.
You Receive Odd Collection Calls
If you already have a credit card in collections, this won’t be a cause of alarm. However, if the collection agency asks about a card you didn’t open, that’s a telltale sign of identity theft. Let the collection agency know the card isn’t yours, so they stop contacting you, then immediately place a fraud alert on your card to prevent this in the future.
You’re Denied for a Loan or Credit Card
Bad credit means you’ll have fewer options for loans, but if you are positive you have good credit, this will come as a surprise. Lenders need to tell you if you’re denied due to your credit report, but you’ll be entitled to a free credit report once you’re rejected. Take advantage of this to see if you’re a victim of identity theft.
Your Credit Report has an Extra Card
Always look at your credit report every month to determine if all of your credit cards are accounted for. An extra card on your report is an obvious sign of identity theft. Take action immediately by initiating a credit report dispute to get the account removed from the report. Call the company and report that fraud occurred.
You’re Getting Unfamiliar Hard Inquiries
Credit reports will contain soft and hard inquiries where hard inquiries result from an application either you or a fraudster filled out. Unfamiliar hard inquiries that someone applied for a credit card in your name is a sure sign of fraud. Be sure to put a fraud alert on your credit report to warn businesses they should provide credit products from you until further notice.
You Stop Receiving Your Credit Card Bills
Fraudsters will reroute your credit card bills to another address. While this is another clear sign of identity theft, it could also mean a porch pirate is taking your mail out of your mailbox. To prevent this from happening in the future, ensure that your mailbox is secure. You can prevent this from happening entirely by rerouting your mail to a post office.