Identity theft is a serious and wide-spread problem. Many people who have had their sensitive information or identities stolen become victims of identity fraud. According to a 2016 study by Javelin Strategy & Research, 13.1 million people were victims of identity fraud in 2015. Suffering from identity theft or fraud can severely damage a person’s finances and credit score. A Miami consumer protection attorney can help victims file a case. Here are ways to prevent identity theft from ever happening or happening again.
1.Learn to Recognize an Identity Scam
The most prevalent identity fraud scams steal people’s credit card numbers and other sensitive information and use them in multiple ways listed below.
- Making purchases in someone else’s name
- Filing false tax returns to get refunds
- Gaining access to someone else’s health insurance benefits
This personal data is stolen using the common methods below.
- Sending phishing scams via email and phone
- Installing malware onto computers
- Spying on people as they enter their PIN numbers at ATMs
- Stealing physical mail
- Rummaging through garbage to find sensitive documents
- Stealing wallets and purses
The ability to recognize when these methods are being used against you is the first step in identity theft prevention.
2. Do Not Click Links Inside Emails
Phishing via email is a popular way to collect online identities. Thieves using this technique will send out an official looking email that includes a link that takes recipients to a fake website where they are asked to log in to their account. Recipients of these types of emails should never click on the link. If they do so by mistake, they should never type in their usernames and passwords. Instead, they should check whether the email’s information corresponds to what appears on the official site by manually typing in the URL. If is does not, the email is a phishing scam.
3. Protect Sensitive Information From Physical and Digital Theft
Sensitive information can be stolen physically and digitally. Therefore, it is essential for people to cover all their bases when securing that information which includes social security numbers, birthdates, credit card numbers, bank account numbers, and so on.
Here are ways people can physically protect their information:
- Lock their mailboxes
- Shred sensitive documents
- Secure important documents in a safe or locked container
- Carry a minimal amount of personal information in their wallets and purses
Here are ways people can protect their digital identities:
- Use strong usernames and passwords for their desktop and mobile devices
- Avoid using the same usernames and passwords on multiple accounts
- Make sure a website is secure before entering personal information
- Keep anti-malware software up to date
- Wipe the information off their computers and smartphones before discarding them
4. Monitor Financial Statements and Credit Reports
To prevent identity theft or fraud from significantly damaging finances and credit scores, people have to report these crimes as early as possible. They must consistently go over their financial statements such as credit card and bank statements, health insurance statements, and credit reports. Any suspicious activity or charge not recognized by the account holder has to be reported as soon as it is noticed.
If you or a loved one has fallen victim to identity theft and wish to file a claim, a Miami consumer protection attorney can represent you. At Graham Legal, our team of skilled consumer protection lawyers can represent you at the state and federal levels. Call us to find out how we can help you file an identity theft claim.