Many Americans have suffered from identity theft. But for those who haven’t, you’re not out of the woods quite yet; you can still get your identity stolen. However, by taking proper precautions, you can prevent identity theft or catch it before it can lead to disastrous consequences.
Here are our four best practices to prevent identity theft.
Sign Up for Alerts on Banking & Credit Cards to Know When They Are Being Used and When Fraud is Detected
If you sign up for banking alerts via text message or push notifications, you’ll know right away when your credit cards have fraudulent charges so you won’t be responsible for them. Alerts will also help protect you against bank account takeover problems by catching these threats before they can harm you.
- Benefit: You can track transactions in real-time and get notifications immediately any time an action is taken on your account. If a transaction comes through that you don’t recognize, call your bank immediately.
- Time it takes to complete: 30 seconds per account. If you already have your bank’s app, find the settings and set alerts. Then choose how you want to receive notifications.
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Sign Up for an Identity Protection Monitoring Service
An identity monitoring solution helps you take the guesswork out of keeping an eye on all the places your personal information is used. These services can watch for account breaches, data leaks, and more—all from one place. Our top recommendation for an identity protection service is Identity Guard. For $25 per month, the Ultra plan lets you watch credit card accounts, account takeovers, and investment accounts. You can add both adults and children, and you can set up alerts by email or text. You’ll know if new accounts are opened in your name, or if passwords to accounts with sensitive data are compromised.
- Benefit: You can set up a watch list and check everything at once from a straightforward dashboard. The biggest bonus is you’ll get help recovering your accounts and finances if you become a victim. An identity protection service comes with $1,000,000 in identity theft insurance. Customers also rate service reps as outstanding so that you won’t navigate financial fraud alone.
- Time it takes to complete: 20 minutes to input all your accounts into your plan and verify your identity. You can also take a few minutes to set up safe surfing.
Consider a Bundled Cybersecurity Solution (like Aura or Total Digital Security) for Strong Passwords, Antivirus, VPN, and More
With a bundled cybersecurity solution, you’ll be able to protect data like SSN and birthdates on your accounts and machines, which typically have less protection from theft than corporate databases. You’ll know you’re doing everything you can on your end to keep this data from being used by others to secure employment, credit, or benefits in your name.
- Benefit: Monitoring your account passwords simultaneously as your accounts mean you have a better chance of catching problems early. When there’s a breach, you’ll be able to change passwords before they’re used on your accounts. You need these services anyway, so it makes sense to bundle.
- Time it takes to complete: 40 minutes to input your accounts, set up desired notifications, and get acquainted with the VPN and antivirus protection.
Aura offers monitoring of accounts but also personal data on many sites. You can scan through data brokers like Spokeo for your SSN alongside the dark web sellers, so you’ll know there’s a problem before your data is sold. You can monitor financial accounts and new account activity within the last 30 days. You can also download antivirus software for Mac, PC, iOS, and Android devices. There’s a password vault and a VPN to protect privacy. You get notifications via email, with text notifications coming soon.
Total Digital Security is a little different. It doesn’t offer financial account monitoring. Instead, it protects home computers from breaches, with a digital vault and data loss protection. It’s ideal for remote workers who need personal device security rather than outside account monitoring.
Get an Identity Protection Pin from the IRS
Only you’ll be able to file a tax return with the IRS with this special pin that confirms you have verified your identity. You’ll know your identity is safe for federal and tax filings.
- Benefit: You’ll get a six-digit pin confirming you’ve established your identity with the IRS and preventing anyone from filing a fraudulent return with your social security number.
- Time it takes to complete: 40 minutes to complete a form and drop it in the mail, then another 20 minutes to field a call from the IRS. If you can’t verify your identity over the phone, you’ll have to take an afternoon to head to your nearest Tax Assistance Center in person. You’ll have your Identity Protection Pin three weeks later.
Conclusion: It’s Possible to Prevent Identity Theft
While identity theft is common, it can be prevented by taking a few extra steps, precautions, and implementing a few software tools. Take the first steps in preventing identity theft today by shopping for top-rated cybersecurity tools on the Batten Marketplace.