Looking for Ways to Protect Your Identity? Top Tips for Identity Theft Protection

Identity Theft Protection Tips 

Reports of identity theft are nothing new—it has been a concern for hundreds of years in one form or another. But in the modern age of internet connectivity and extensive documentation, people becoming victims of identity theft is a lucrative business for criminals, and that makes identity theft protection more important than ever.  

Protecting your identity is more complex than keeping your essential documents under lock and key. It requires ongoing vigilance in multiple areas of your life, but identity theft protection doesn't have to be a significant burden if you know what to look for and have systems to help you keep watch for signs of trouble. That's why the brokers at Morison Insurance put together some essential tips on the best ways for individuals to prevent identity theft.  

Why Is Identity Theft Protection Important? 

Identity thieves may not seem like a significant threat. Many assume they can get away with doing the bare minimum or not even thinking about identity theft protection. Still, anyone who has ever had to go through the stress and hassle of recovering their identity from a thief, not to mention dealing with the expense of identity fraud recovery, will tell you that preventative measures are well worth your time and efforts.  

With a surprisingly small amount of information about you, identity thieves can open bank accounts and lines of credit in your name, apply for mortgages, take your income tax refunds and benefit payments, and much more, leaving you with nothing but a huge debt load and rock-bottom credit score. Under those circumstances, recovering your identity and clearing all that debt off your name can be incredibly challenging and take years to resolve fully. Nobody wants the stress of having their entire life thrown into chaos, which is why it's so important to understand identity theft protection and implement a robust identity theft protection plan.  

11 Identity Theft Protection Tips 

So, how do you get started on identity theft protection? Here are some tips on the best ways to ensure your identity is secure so you can have peace of mind knowing the only person using your identity is you. 

1. Use Strong Passwords

We get it—absolutely everything requires a password these days, and it's not easy to remember them all when every password must contain a unique sequence of letters, numbers and special characters. It's very tempting to use the same password for everything, and many people do that. The problem is that if one website is compromised by hackers or your password is uncovered by other means, identity thieves now have access to absolutely everything and taking over your whole life couldn't be simpler for them.  

It's critically important to use unique passwords for everything and ensure that the passwords you use aren't common or easily guessed. That means your pet's name, the street you live on, and other details from your life do not make for good passwords. The most robust passwords are random letters, numbers and unique character sequences. Consider using password manager programs to make your life easier so you don't have to remember every password at the drop of a hat. 

2. Check Your Transactions

Regularly review your credit card statements, bank statements, and financial accounts for any signs of suspicious activity. If you notice any transactions you did not make, call your bank or credit card company immediately so they can take remedial action and get the situation dealt with before it spirals out of control. It's always easier to get control of your financial accounts back when you catch fraudulent activity early on, dispute the suspicious transactions and close off access to anyone who has gotten your information.

3. Review Your Credit Report

Once per year, checking out your credit report is an excellent idea. If your credit score has gone down unexpectedly, that could indicate that thieves have co-opted your identity. You can also sign up for credit monitoring services that will alert you immediately of suspicious or unexpected changes to your credit score. The sooner fraud is discovered, the easier it will be to bring it to a stop. 

4. Say No to Phishing Attempts

One of the most effective ways thieves can access critical information is by asking you to provide it for them. Thieves can carry out phishing attempts via phone, email, online chats, and even in-person conversations, and they can be very convincing.  

If you are contacted first by someone who claims to be from your bank, the Canada Revenue Agency, or another type of institution, company, or organization and asks you for information about yourself, refuse to give it to them. In the same sense, if you receive an email asking you to click a link or provide information and you're not 100% sure who sent it to you, do not click anything or reply to the email.  

You can always contact the institution or company at a verified contact number and ask them if the original person you spoke with was legitimate. Service providers deal with phishing attempts every day, and they won't mind verifying for you before you provide any potentially sensitive information. 

5. Utilize Information Security Technology

When you're investigating options for identity theft protection, it makes sense to consider using some of the many technology options out there that are designed to help you manage identity theft protection without a ton of hassle. That could include antivirus software and other types of security software that can prevent hackers from accessing your electronic device. Consider multi-factor authentication, which adds verification steps when you log in to a critical account online. For example, when you log in to your online bank account, your two-factor authentication could send a text to your phone with an access code to enter on the bank website. That means even if a thief has your bank login information, they can't use it unless they have access to your phone.

6. Keep Your Social Media Between Friends

These days, most people have social media accounts that they use to post photos and personal details about their lives and comment on other people's posts. It may seem like harmless fun and a way to keep in touch with family members and friends, and it is—but it can also be a potential gold mine for identity theft. Even seemingly harmless memes and quizzes can be used to collect crucial information.  

Have you ever seen a post asking you to combine information like the street you grew up on or your pet's name to create a silly "name" for yourself? It's no coincidence that the information you're being asked to combine is the same type of information you're asked for in online security questions that are meant to protect your online account from intruders.  

There are a few ways to tackle identity theft protection regarding your social media presence. You can change your settings to private so only people you've added as friends can see your posts, or you can make your social media profile public and do not post any personal information online. You may also want to opt for a combination of the two by keeping certain posts viewable by friends only while other, less personal posts are available for public viewing.

7. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Connections

If you're out and about and you can't get a good signal on your mobile devices or you don't have data access, a public Wi-Fi network may seem like the best way to get online. However, using a publicly available internet connection can leave your device vulnerable to savvy hackers who can quickly snatch information like your passwords or other sensitive information and use it to steal your identity. Open Wi-Fi networks should be avoided because you never know who else is on there, and in most cases, you won't even know if someone gains access to your phone, tablet or laptop until it's much too late for identity theft protection.

8. Secure Your Sensitive Information

You have to keep some forms of I.D. with you when you're out of the house, like your driver's license. However, you should refrain from carrying your passport, social insurance number, or birth certificate with you regularly. You're unlikely to need them in your day-to-day life, and it's all too easy to accidentally leave your wallet or purse behind or have it stolen. With just one of the forms of I.D. listed above, an identity thief can acquire all the other types of I.D. in your name and start masquerading as you.  

It's also important not to leave your I.D. and other types of sensitive information lying around in your house, where they can easily be scooped up by visiting acquaintances or service providers who are in your home. Identity theft protection extends to your home, so it makes sense to safely keep sensitive documents and information tucked away where they can't be spotted and grabbed. 

9. Bring In Your Mail

Your email address is one of many types of mail you need to protect when it comes to identity theft protection. It's also a critical step to be vigilant with your physical mail. It's easy to assume there's nothing all that important in there, especially when it's 95% advertisements and junk mail. Still, mail such as student loan documents, tax returns and utility bills are valuable assets for identity thieves that they can use to gain a foothold on your identity and exploit it. Make sure to bring your mail in every day and keep sensitive information filed in a safe place. 

10. Destroy Documents Before Discarding

Speaking of documents such as utility bills, if you're not planning on keeping them on file, shred them before you dispose of them in the trash. Dumpster diving can be a very effective method of finding information to use for identity theft, and even mail or documents that may not seem like a big deal can provide some key information, such as notices from your credit card company that you've been pre-approved for a credit limit increase. 

11. Invest in Identity Theft Insurance Coverage

While you're thinking about identity theft protection, it's an ideal time to consider identity theft insurance coverage. This coverage can help you avoid major financial losses if the worst happens and you're forced to deal with an identity theft situation.  

Identity theft protection insurance is an optional coverage that can typically be added to your home insurance policy. In the event that you are the victim of identity theft, you can file a claim with your insurance company to receive compensation for the expense of identity theft restoration services and repairing your financial history. You may also be able to get funds to cover costs such as your legal representation, fees for having new documents issued and loss of income related to the theft of your identity. 

This content is written by our Morison Insurance team. All information posted is merely for educational and informational purposes. It is not intended as a substitute for professional advice. Should you decide to act upon any information in this article, you do so at your own risk. While the information on this website has been verified to the best of our abilities, we cannot guarantee that there are no mistakes or errors.

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