Identity theft does not discriminate. In 2016, a record 15.4 million Americans were plagued by some variation of identity theft. The good news? The dollar amount per victim fell, as consumers have become quicker to pick up on when their identity has been compromised. The better news? There are measures you - and all consumers - can take to reduce their risk of becoming victims. Here are some of our tips: -Guard your Social Security number with your life. Never give it to an unaccredited or untrustworthy source. Don’t bring your card with you, either. Consider getting a personal safe to keep it and other valuables safe and kept away. -Store important documents - bank statements, W-2 filings, medical records - in a secure place in your home, like the aforementioned personal safe. Don’t give the combo to anyone you don’t completely trust. -Always watch your purse or wallet. -Don’t give too many personal details to social media accounts. Things like your mom’s maiden name, the street you grew up on, the first pet you had, and other common questions like these are used as security measures and could allow thieves to pose as you more concisely.-Set up fraud alerts. Services like LifeLock, Experian, Equifax, Credit Karma offer fraud alert or active duty alert to help you determine if you believe someone has used your personal information for nefarious purposes. -Secure your computer and other devices with some type of antivirus or anti-phishing software. Always utilize strong passwords. Longer passwords with multiple symbols, numbers, and letters are typically the strongest. -Periodically check your bank account and other financials statements to be sure everything is in order. Sometimes when something is off can be user error, but it’s wise to double check any and anything you find out of the blue. Going as far to request a free credit score report to see your financial health and ensure it aligns with your personal spending habits is a strong practice to consider to fight identity theft. -Don’t hesitate if and when you think you’ve been a victim of identity theft. Call your bank, and cancel any compromising accounts. Better to be safe than a victim. Want to check your paycheck to make sure everything is in order with your pay stub? Use our salary calculator here.
These free resources should not be taken as tax or legal advice. Content provided is intended as general information. Tax regulations and laws change and the impact of laws can vary. Consult a tax advisor, CPA or lawyer for guidance on your specific situation.