10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information
By: Stacey Nickens
Millions of individuals fall victim to identity theft every year. While the reality is scary and troubling, there are steps you can take to protect your personal information and your identity. Keep reading to learn about 10 steps that the Social Security Administration recommends in order to protect yourself from identity theft.
- Do not give your personal information to callers who are behaving in a threatening manner. Scammers will say that you need to provide your information in order to solve a problem, such as avoiding legal action or resolving a computer virus. Some fraudsters will even say you’ve won a prize and that they need your personal information in order for you to claim the prize. If you receive a call in this vein, hang up. Click here for more information about common scams perpetrated over the phone.
- Along those lines, be vigilant when answering calls from unknown numbers. Spammers can use a technique called spoofing in order to appear as a legitimate agency. For example, some fraudsters will pretend to be a member of the Social Security Administration. Please know that the Social Security Administration will never ask for your Social Security Number over the phone, and if a caller threatens you or makes you feel afraid, immediately end the call. Click here for more information on Social Security scams.
- In general, do not give out your personal information after you receive an unsolicited call or text. Avoid posting personal information on social media.
- When setting up security questions, do not use answers that could be easily found online or on your social media.
- Create strong, unique passwords for your accounts. Click here to review the FTC’s strong password checklist.
- Keep your Social Security card in a secure location, such as a locked safe. Do not provide your Social Security Number unless absolutely necessary.
- Shred documents and mail that contain your name, birth date, Social Security number, or other personal information.
- Review your financial accounts for unusual activity on a regular basis.
- Use anti-virus software on all of your devices, such as your cellphone, computer, and tablet. Avoid falling victim to tech support scams. These scams include pop-ups that your device has been infected and that you need to click on a link in order to solve the problem. If you are concerned about an issue with your computer, reach out to a trusted source for help.
- Do not click on links in unsolicited or unfamiliar texts or emails. These links could be a part of a phishing scam. Common phishing scams come in the form of emails warning of suspicious activity on one of your accounts or saying that you’ve received a voicemail. These emails may even mimic the style of a legitimate organization, such as Microsoft or Netflix. Instead of clicking on the link in the email, sign into your account with the legitimate organization. You can then see if the notification is legitimate or not. Click here for more information about phishing scams.
As always, the Elm3 team is available to assist you with protecting your identity and personal information. Please reach out if you have any questions or need support in implementing the above steps.