If you have a bank account, shop online, or even pay taxes, you run the risk of identity theft. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, more than 17.6 million Americans are victims of identity theft each year. As of 2014, about 7% of U.S. residents ages 16 and older experienced some form of identity theft. This type of theft includes such things as the unauthorized use of credit cards, bank accounts, or the use of personal information to commit financial crimes.
While some identity theft losses are insured by financial institutions, others may be financially and emotionally devastating. One thing that they nearly all have in common is that they are frustrating and inconvenient. In today's digital age, protecting your information is a challenge, but it is necessary. Here are five tips that can help you avoid becoming a victim of an identity theft scheme.
1. Safeguard Your Personal Information.
No one can steal your personal information if they can't access the data. To lock down your personal data, you'll need to do several things. First, don't answer personal questions over the telephone or through email, especially if someone contacts you. If in doubt, hang up the phone and call the company back. Also, use strong passwords on all of your accounts and make them unique from each other.
2. Register for the Do Not Call List.
The chances of unsolicited calls to your home or cell phone will go down significantly if you register with the Federal Do Not Call list. While this won't eliminate all calls, it will cut down on the ones from telemarketers. If you decide to buy something over the phone, ask for a callback number or website to do some independent research before moving forward.
3. Check Your Credit Report Annually.
Someone could steal your information and apply for a credit card, and you wouldn't know until the collections calls start to roll in. You can find out about identity theft sooner if you check your credit report at least once a year. Federal law allows you to get a free copy of your credit report from each of the three agencies annually, so take advantage of this service.
4. Get a Chip Card.
Most of us don't like chip cards because they're slow and inconvenient. The important thing to remember is that the EMV chip on a credit card makes the card a safer choice. The chances of your card information being stolen go down with a chip card, so ask your bank when that card will be issued.
5. Limit Your Debit Card Use.
Did you know that credit cards provide more purchase protection than debit cards? In many cases this is true, so you are better off using a credit card for your consumer purchases. Even if your debit card has liability protection, if your identity is stolen your bank will probably freeze your account and you'll lose access to that money while the mess is sorted out.
Identity theft can be a serious problem and falling victim to one of these schemes can affect your ability to financially provide for your loved ones. These tips can help you avoid future problems. Another way that you can provide for your family's financial future is with a life insurance policy. Contact us to learn more about affordable life insurance choices or start a quote now.
Knowledge is power. The more you know, the easier it is to make an intelligent choice. Everyday life, as well as certain events and circumstances, require you to make choices. And peace of mind is gained when you feel good about the decisions you make.
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