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I feel like the words “identity theft” leave us all on edge. We think the worst things and we panic. But there are simple ways to ensure that the likelihood you have to deal with this is VERY low. Today I am going to share simple ways on how to protect yourself from identity theft so that you never have to worry about things like this coming up!
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
Strong Passwords: I love to tell the story about how when Andrew and I met I once told him I use the same password for every account. I’m fairly certain his head exploded. Not only was I using the same password but it was a small easy one to figure out. Doh! That’s when Andrew introduced me to LastPass, which is a great app/plugin/website for storing passwords and other important info like credit card numbers, family members info, etc. LastPass creates super-strong passwords for you and stores them. The passwords are complete random jumbles of letters, numbers, and characters. The site will also run a check on all of your passwords to see which ones need to be updated or changed and which are weak or strong. You then get a score based on all of that. I love this post about conducting a personal online security audit! Something we all need to do more often.
Two-Factor Authentication: Two-factor authentication is a security feature that only grants you access to your account after you provide two means of authentication, something you know (your password) along with something you have (a special code that’s on your phone or email). Most likely your bank, email, most social media, etc offer two-factor authentication. If you use ANYTHING that offers this I suggest using it. Just on the off chance someone was to get your crazy complicated password they still would need a second factor to access your account. For this I use an app called Authy that will generate a 6 digit code every 30 seconds for you to use to sign in. I use this on my blog, Facebook, Gmail, and LastPass. Check out this post from Lexington Law about what to look out for in 2019 with identify theft.
Set Credit Card Alerts: This is one I didn’t do originally but do now because my credit card was compromised a few months ago. Thankfully I caught it pretty quick and was able to get my card locked down. Now I get an email alert whenever my card is used online, internationally, or for any amount over $25. I do this for all of my cards that have this feature, even ones I don’t use much.
Use A Monitoring Service: Through my husband’s job we get free identity monitoring which is an amazing perk. There are services like LifeLock that do this as well. So if a hard inquiry is run, an address change is recorded, or anything else you get an alert. It’s a great way to spot if an account has been opened in your name you don’t know about.
Run Credit Reports: According to Lexington Law you are entitled by Federal Law to one free credit report a year from each of the three credit reporting bureaus. Running your credit report at least annually is also a great way to see ANY account in your name out there. So if someone has opened an account in your name, or you have anything crazy on there you should see it. Should you become a victim of identity theft here are 3 steps to recover.
Freeze Your Credit: Another great thing you can do is add a security freeze to your profile at the three credit bureaus. This is a free temporary freeze which prevents anyone from running a credit report on you, which makes it much harder for an identity thief to be able to apply for credit in your name. It doesn’t hurt your credit either, just be sure to unfreeze them before you plan to open any new credit accounts.
Lexington Law has so many helpful posts about identity theft and how to protect yourself. If you find yourself in a situation where your credit has issues contact them and see how they can help you!
Have you ever dealt with identity theft? Is there anything you would add on how to protect yourself from identity theft?
*all photos by Jenny Havens Photography