One thing we don’t really think about when sculpting our personal defense system is making a plan for personal identity information and financial safety.
This is when your personal information such as your driver’s licenses, social security number or even your name is used to commit a crime or fraud. There are so many horror stories of people experiencing identity theft and all the personal hardship they endure trying to get back to normal. Unfortunately, in most cases, people don’t know they have been a victim of identity theft until it is too late and their personal information has already been used in a fraudulent way.
Today, it is easier and easier for thieves to take your identity. Some of the more common ways your identity can be stolen include:
- Data Breaches
- Internet Hacking
- Credit card theft
- Mail theft
- WiFi hacking
- Cell phone theft
- ATM Skimmers
- Spam Phone Calls
What can be done with a stolen identity?
If an identity is taken, here are a few things that can be done with it,
- Open fraudulent credit card accounts
- Use your credit card to make fraudulent charges,
- File fraudulent taxes and collect the refund.
- Sell your personal information on the dark web.
Mail theft, phone theft and other forms of physical theft are all vile ways thieves can take your identity. All it takes is a quick swipe of your phone out of your back pocket and bam, in some cases they have everything. Or a quick walk by your mailbox, pop it open and go.
Today’s cell phone has the ability to store credit card numbers where you can simply swipe and pay, or host password apps where you can keep all your passwords. For some people, their phone has everything on it. How can you combat this? If you need all of this information on your phone, make sure everything is password protected. Not only your lock screen but your individual apps. There are even features on new phones that protect your information with fingerprint or facial recognition. Now that is cool!
One that still happens today is mail theft. Not only are people stealing packages for their personal gain right off of your doorstep! There are people out there who take mail from mailboxes which in turn, they can use for identity theft. A few ways to combat this, get a PO Box. This way your mail is not sitting in your unlocked mailbox until you get home. Have packaged mailed to work if you are able.
Data breaches, WiFi or internet hacking are all a way of life now. Our country is now governed by technology it seems. Phones, TVs, cars, even appliances are all “Smart” and connected to the internet or Wifi. There are people who are able to get into your network simply by sitting next to you while you peruse free WiFi at Starbucks. The best way to defend against these types of hacking is to have your own personal hot spot with very complex passwords. Also for your home network, you should always have very complex passwords. I’m talking ones that include random letters, upper/lower case letters, numbers symbols.
Credit card skimming is when a person scans your card and information such as your card number, expiration date, and your full name. All of these things can be obtained by the scanner. ATMs, gas stations, and even waiters in restaurants can be skimming your information putting you at risk.
Credit cards can also be skimmed while in your purse. If an offender has an RFID skimmer, which by the way, can be purchased online for about $100, can steal your information. The offender can walk by you, within 5 feet, and if you do not have an RFID protected wallet, they can get your information.
How to Protect your Identity:
If you do not have a credit monitoring service or at least check your credit score regularly, please start! There are so many companies that allow you to check your credit score without dinging your credit. If you need a good site to get started with, check out Identity IQ. They have so many features including credit reporting, dark web monitoring, and can keep your child’s ID safe.
How to Protect your Credit cards
Now RFID protection comes in so many forms, built into your purse, wallets, sleeves. There is a way out there that will work for you. Here are a few of my favorite for in every form.