Approximately 12.7 million people were victims of identity theft in 2014, according to Javelin Research. The easiest thing you can do to protect yourself is avoid these seven common mistakes that put so many people at risk.
Mistake #1 – Being Careless With Your Social Security Number
Don’t give out your Social Security number over the phone — ever — unless you’re on the line with a credible financial institution. Also, never provide it to any organization or business online, unless you’re applying for a job, a credit card, a new loan, or filling out legitimate online forms from trusted sources.
Mistake #2 – Shopping on Questionable Websites
If you run across an online deal that just seems too good to be true — like 90 percent off the latest smartphone — it probably is.
Mistake #3 – Opening Random Emails
If you don’t recognize the sender or the email address, don’t open it. Also, be wary of suspicious-looking email, even if it looks like it’s from a friend. Your friend’s email was probably hacked. Delete the email and let your friend know about it.
Mistake #4 – Ignoring Antivirus Software
Hackers design viruses to sneak into your applications so they can steal your personal information. With that in mind, make sure you have antivirus software running.
Mistake #5 – Conducting Financial Tasks Over Public Wi-Fi
Don’t check your bank account balances or credit card statements when using public Wi-Fi.
Mistake #6 – Venturing Out With Your Checkbook
Leave your checkbook at home. Even in the digital age, one of the easiest ways for someone to steal your identity is off a printed check.
Mistake #7 – Taking a Vacation From Guarding Your Identity
When you’re away on vacation, ask a neighbor to pick up your mail, so it’s not easily stolen.
By avoiding these common mistakes, you can reduce your chances of becoming a statistic.
AAA members can enroll for FREE in ProtectMyID® Essential (a $79 value), which provides daily credit monitoring, fraud resolution support, and lost wallet assistance. Members can purchase the Deluxe package for $8.95 a month for additional features. Find out more at AAA.com/detectidtheft.
This article was first published in Arizona Highroads in May/June 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.