Your identity is your most valuable asset
With the holidays approaching, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the season. But before you click “add to cart,” consider these stats.
- In 2020, identity fraud losses were $56 billion.1
- Identity fraud scams like robocalls and email phishing scams accounted for $43 billion in losses.2
- Annually, 1 in 20 Americans are affected by identity theft.3
Your identity is an asset – as valuable as cash in hand – and it can be easily compromised through theft or a data breach. One of the first steps to protecting yourself is to determine your level of risk. The ID RiskCompass, powered by CyberScout, is an easy-to-use tool that evaluates whether you are effectively protecting your personally identifiable information. It also provides tips on how to better safeguard your identity and shield yourself from potential risk.
Here are five privacy data tips you can use immediately to help protect your identity and finances.
- Check your privacy settings on social media. Check your accounts and make sure you’re not sharing anything with the public that could expose you to identity theft or worse. Keep answers to your security questions off Facebook, don’t share upcoming travel plans and, more generally, don’t overshare. The more information you make public, the easier a target you are.
- Close your old online accounts and update your passwords. Do you have old profiles you haven’t used in years? Delete old accounts you don’t use anymore, and while you’re at it, update the passwords on your existing accounts to make them stronger. Use symbols, numbers, special characters and upper- and lower-case letters. Never use the same password for different sites. Also, consider getting a password manager to store your passwords in one place.
- Enable 2-factor authentication on everything and sign up for account alerts. Most businesses and social media sites allow customers to receive alerts if there is suspicious activity on their accounts. It’s a good idea to connect your online accounts to a cell phone or an authentication app if you are worried about unauthorized access.
- Create a burner email account for non-essentials. Ad trackers compile and share data on your browsing history as well as your purchases both online and offline. Creating separate email accounts for your online shopping can provide a modicum of separation and privacy. It’s not foolproof, but it’s a free and easy way to split the data you’re unwittingly providing online.
- Monitor your credit. Request a copy of your credit report. Under federal law, you can request one free credit report a year. When looking at your credit report, look for suspicious activity like errors or accounts and addresses that are not recognizable. Also, think about signing up for credit and fraud monitoring services that watch for your information on the web and alert you of unusual activity.
These tips are a great place to start, but don’t stop there. Identity thieves are unrelenting – you should be, too. Visit horacemann.myideducation.com for additional identity protection tips and resources, including the ID RiskCompass.
1-2. Javelin Strategy & Research - 2021 Identity Fraud Study: Shifting Angles
3. Sato, G. (2021, January 27). How common is identity theft? Experian. Retrieved October 15, 2021, from https://www.experian.com/blogs/ask-experian/how-common-is-identity-theft/