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How to Protect Yourself from ID Fraud

ID fraud is one of the most frightening possibilities within the financial system in America. When so much of your life depends on your credit score, the idea that your identity can be stolen and your credit tarnished can be incredibly scary. When your identity is stolen, more is at risk than your ability to get a credit card or a low interest rate on a loan. Poor credit can also result in paying hundreds more per year for car insurance. You even might be turned down service with a cable or cell service provider based on your credit, or at the very least might be required to put down an enormous deposit when establishing service. The damage

to your credit report can last for 7-10 years, and that’s a long time to wait to get your identity and good reputation back.

Fortunately, there are ways to protect yourself. There are 7 well-established tips to secure your identity. Learning how to easily defend yourself from credit card fraud or id theft is important for your future and your financial health. Taking these tips into account can help you establish strong habits that will keep your identity safe. First, be careful about how much you share on social media. Many seemingly innocent social media games will ask questions like “What’s your mother’s maiden name?” or “What is the name of your first pet?” The answers to these questions are often also used as the answers to security questions on your mobile banking service or other accounts. Make sure you’re using strong antivirus and antimalware software on your computer. If you download a game or app onto your computer, it could come with shady hidden software that logs your information that you type into your keyboard, and now someone somewhere has your passwords to everything. Shred anything you get in the mail with potential financial information, even credit card promotional offers. Anything you don’t shred, you should keep locked in a file cabinet to which only you and your space or estate keeper have a key.

You should also make sure that your passwords are strong. Don’t use your pet’s name as a password if you can help it. Use a combination of capital letters, lower case letters, and numbers to make your password safer. Check to see if your home Wi-Fi connection is secured so no one can break into your network and monitor your screens. Never click on any links someone sends you unless you have verified their email hasn’t been hacked, and if you do click a link, never input your password to an account unless you typed the url yourself. Remember – your bank will never ask you for your username and password. Finally, monitor your accounts closely. Report any strange or inaccurate transactions to your bank immediately.

Take our quiz to learn 7 tips to secure your identity and see if you're doing enough to protect yourself.

Does your mobile banking password include at least three defining characteristics (upper case, lower case, number, or special character)?
Does your Wi-Fi connection at home require a password to connect?
Have you ever been sent an unsolicited link via email or social media?
Are you enrolled in a credit monitoring program like LifeLock?
Do you shred any financial documents you don’t need to keep, such as voided checks?
Are your social media accounts free of too much sensitive information?
Do you use and/or subscribe to a reputable antivirus/antimalware suite?