Table of Contents
Identity Theft 101
Growing up if someone wanted to be you it was the highest form of flattery. That or you’d call them a copycat and get very annoyed. Today the tides have changed and now when someone wants to be you, they simply steal your identity and try to rob you blind. It is possibly the most invading thing criminals can do trying to infiltrate your personal finances and lives.
It leaves us feeling much worse than that annoying kid in school who copied every word you said. You are left feeling vulnerable, helpless, invaded, and simply beaten up. To make matters worse it is one of the most common crimes these days as it takes a criminal with a computer and that is about it to try to steal our identity.
Now there are so many different tactics these criminals take, and although they don’t discriminate, these criminals certainly prey on the elderly. We likely won’t ever be able to fully stop them, however, there are some basic best practices we can adopt into our lives to best protect us against these terrible crimes.
Before I get into tips, tricks, and best practices I want to make a very public announcement about Diversified, LLC in this realm. We take our client’s identity very seriously here. We will never ask you over email for personal information like your SS#. If you need funds we will voice, verify over the phone, and ask for some personal identifying information. We are trained in spotting suspicious activity and none of our providers will reach out to you directly if you need any funds.
That said, what can you do to best safeguard yourself?
Tips to Protect Yourself Against Identity Theft:
- Never share your personal information over the phone or email unless you are certain the person on the other line is legitimate, and/or you initiated the contact directly.
- Be very skeptical if anyone asks you for your personal information online, even if you know the other entity. You can usually even put your mouse over the sender’s email to see if they disguised their email to say someone else’s name and it will reveal the actual email source.
- Almost never give out your Social Security number, personal account number, or driver’s license unless you are 100% certain of the legitimacy of the other party.
- Buy a shredder and destroy all documents with your personal information on it. Quick plug we have shredder bins at our offices if you ever need to drop off a large load.
- When choosing your passwords or pin numbers don’t use easy or obvious passwords like your date of birth or your maiden name. There are a lot of password management software out there like Dropbox or Lastpass that can help you store and manage all your passwords securely.
- Stay on top of your finances. I find it a good practice to log in to your accounts frequently and make sure no fraudulent charges, missing money, pending unauthorized transactions, etc.
- Consider using a site like LifeLock to notify you of any suspicious activity tied to your name or accounts.
- Guard your mail from predators. Promptly retrieve your mail and if sending sensitive information or bill pay consider going directly to the post office to send it.
- Don’t click on any links or downloads over email, unless you are certain of their legitimacy.
- Make sure your computer is being monitored with the latest security software.
- Check your credit report at least once a year to ensure its accuracy. Make sure no unauthorized accounts are open.
- Don’t use unsecured Wi-Fi networks to conduct personal financial transactions.
- Pay attention to odd requests such as sending money overseas or to an account not directly in the name of the intended recipient.
There are so many other best practices out there, but I thought these were a very good start. At the end of the day, it is important to take a second before sharing or clicking on anything that you are unsure of its viability. I often find taking a second to think through things is a huge help as oftentimes these fraudsters prey on scare tactics or have to act quickly. There are so many ways they can and try to scam you that the best thing we can do is proceed with caution and when in doubt double and triple check.
Hope you have found this helpful and as always stay wealthy, healthy, and happy.