ID Theft Prevention
Advice from Hazel Heckers, the Victims Advocate for the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, on simple methods to help prevent ID theft
Identity theft prevention is crucial in today's digital age where personal information can be easily compromised. Here are some essential tips to help you minimize the risk of becoming a victim of identity theft:
- Protect Personal Information: Be cautious about sharing sensitive information such as Social Security numbers, bank account details, and passwords. Only provide this information when absolutely necessary and to trusted sources.
- Secure Personal Documents: Keep important documents (e.g., passport, driver's license, financial statements) in a secure place. Shred documents containing sensitive information before disposing of them.
- Use Strong Passwords: Create strong and unique passwords for all your online accounts. Avoid using easily guessable information like your name or birthdate. Consider using a password manager to keep track of your passwords securely.
- Enable Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Whenever possible, enable MFA on your online accounts. This adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification, such as a one-time code sent to your phone.
- Be Wary of Phishing: Beware of phishing attempts, where scammers try to trick you into revealing personal information. Be cautious of unsolicited emails, messages, or calls asking for sensitive data.
- Use Secure Wi-Fi Networks: Avoid using public or unsecured Wi-Fi networks, especially when accessing sensitive information like online banking. Stick to trusted and secure networks.
- Keep Software Updated: Keep your operating system, antivirus software, and applications up to date. Updates often include security patches that protect against known vulnerabilities.
- Monitor Financial Accounts: Regularly review your bank and credit card statements for any unauthorized transactions. Report any suspicious activity immediately to your financial institution.
- Check Credit Reports: Obtain free credit reports annually from major credit bureaus and review them for inaccuracies or signs of fraudulent activity.
- Be Cautious Online: Be mindful of what you share on social media and other online platforms. Identity thieves can use seemingly innocent information to gather more details about you.
- Protect Your Devices: Use a strong passcode or biometric authentication to lock your devices (phone, tablet, computer). Enable remote tracking and wiping features to safeguard your data if your device is lost or stolen.
- Dispose of Electronics Securely: When getting rid of old devices, wipe all personal information from them. Consider using specialized software to ensure data is permanently deleted.
By following these practices, you can significantly reduce the risk of falling victim to identity theft and protect your personal information from falling into the wrong hands.