How To Protect Yourself Against Online Identity Theft
By Kurt Real Estate Nov 23, 2019
Anyone can be at risk of identity theft – especially in the technology era we live in today. Identity thieves are highly skilled at accessing bank accounts, credit card information, and social security numbers which can affect a number of things, from your personal finances to your property rights. With so much of our personal information transmitted digitally, It’s important to know how protect yourself against it. Here are a few tips that can help prevent identity theft:
Improve Internet and Computer Security
Make sure that you have a strong computer security software. Be careful not to wander on to unsecured websites when making credit card purchases. Look for the McAfee, Truste Verified, Google Trusted Store, or Norton Secured icons.
If you’re in a transaction where you will be wiring funds, ALWAYS call the escrow officer to confirm wiring instructions and do NOT wire to instructions that are sent to you by an unidentified email address or unencrypted. All legitimate escrow companies send their wiring instructions encrypted. Sometimes, even that isn’t enough. This is why we recommend you always speak with your escrow officer on the phone to confirm. Do not provide the wiring instructions to anyone else, especially your agent. We don’t want to know how you’re wiring thousands of dollars. That’s between you, your bank, and your escrow officer.
Get Rid of Sensitive Information
If you’ve ever bought or sold a house, then you know that real estate transactions include a lot of paperwork. Thus, it is important that you properly store all of these documents in a secure file and shred any physical documents once they are no longer of use.
Protect Your Social Security Number
Your social security number (SSN) is the most important thing when it comes to protecting your identity. If thieves were to get their hands on your SSN, you can face some very serious problems. When entering your social security number online, make sure that it is a secure site and, under no circumstances, should you let any site save your SSN.
Watch Your Credit
If you feel your identity may be at risk, monitor your credit score. If there are major changes to it, you should report it as soon as possible. Keep a written record of all unusual activity. You should also closely watch your financial accounts. You can enroll in programs like ID Notify which will alert you with any unusual activity that has to do with your personal information, not just financial.
If you think you may be at risk of identity theft, there are various resources to use. Call the three major credit reporting agencies—ExperianSM, Equifax®, and TransUnion®,—and put a freeze on your accounts. You can also reach out to the following organizations:
Federal Trade Commission – 1-877-438-4338
Privacy Guard– 1-800-374-8273
Privacy Rights Clearinghouse
Fight Identity Theft
Identity Theft Resource Center – 1-888-400-5530
National White Collar Crime Center– 1-800-221-4424
Social Security Administration– 1-800-269-0271
U.S. Postal Service – 1-877-876-2455
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