How to Prevent Identity Theft: 7 Things That Will Reduce Your Identity Theft Risk in 2022

Criminal identity theft is on the rise, with victims finding it challenging to get things to normal. During recovery, they’d often have to conduct extensive communications with federal agencies, law enforcement, and even .gov websites.

Yes, you can get back on your feet, but it’s best to avoid it all in the first place. Consider using the services of identity theft protection companies to shield yourself from this societal menace.

The subsequent paragraphs reveal this process, highlighting types of identity theft, reasons that drive fraudsters to commit such crimes, and more.

Let’s get to it, shall we? 

Some of the frequent types of identity theft include:

  • Tax identity theft
  • Medical identity theft
  • Financial identity theft
  • Employment identity theft
  • Synthetic identity theft
  • Child identity theft

Consider the following seven critical factors to avoid falling for identity fraud:

1. Understand What Criminal Identity Theft Is

Criminal identity theft is using another person’s name, personal information, or sensitive financial data to commit fraud or other crimes.

In some cases, identity theft occurs when an identity thief, a person arrested or cited for a crime, uses someone else’s name and personal information, creating a criminal record on the target. 

The victim who had their identity stolen may have issues with the lawful authority and credit bureaus.

Identity thieves may also use valuable personal information to commit financial theft, open new credit accounts, file a tax return, and even claim health care, as with medical identity theft.

2. Protect Sensitive Personal Information From Tax Identity Theft

One of the first steps you can take to protect sensitive information from identity theft is to keep your mail and email secure and clean.

Check your mailbox regularly, lock it, and avoid mailing checks and bill payments from home. Similarly, consider using strong passwords on your email account, which you’ll also update regularly. The same rule applies to your social media accounts. 

Your Social Security Number is another sensitive information, so it’s best to safeguard it. Don’t carry your social security card or any other card that might have your SSN — your health insurance card, for example.

Also, it’s safer not to place your Social Security Number on checks. Why? Because it’s the first place identity thieves look at when pulling off their schemes.

3. Beware of Phishing Scams

Phishing is a type of identity theft when a victim provides sensitive personal information to identity thieves who pose under a fake identity.

In this case, an identity thief will often approach you by sending fraudulent messages posing as official websites for services you might use or even a representative from a legitimate government organization. You don’t knowingly transfer personal information to such criminals, which makes phishing especially dangerous.

To protect yourself from phishing, avoid responding to anyone requesting personal information, check if the sites you surf use encryption, and double-check for any red flags. If it feels off, then it’s most likely something is wrong.

4. Monitor Your Credit Report Regularly

Credit reports are easy to obtain, and you should check yours at least once annually. You can do it online or over the phone.

When the credit report arrives, search for suspicious entries and ring the fraud alert if anything dubious pops up. Don’t hesitate to immediately contact your creditor or credit card company and submit an ID theft report if needed.

It might be worth consulting with a credit protection service to check your bank statements and alert you if needed.

5. Shred Sensitive Documents Before Disposing of Them

In some cases, identity theft occurs because you leave sensitive documents behind. Whether it’s credit card statements, credit reports, or any other documentation that might contain personal financial information — shred it.

It would be best if you didn’t lose sight of your credit card. This practice is one of the most effective ways to avoid credit card skimming.

Another good idea is to ensure that identity thieves can’t go through your garbage and piece the documents together.

6. Be Careful When Using Public Wi-Fi Networks

Public Wi-Fi networks are much more prone to identity theft than their secured personal counterparts. Avoid sharing your information, accessing bank accounts, or communicating with credit reporting agencies over such servers.

When on a public network, we advise using a VPN to browse, disabling file sharing, visiting encrypted “HTTPS” sites, and keeping your firewall active.

For extra safety, we recommend using secured Wi-Fi networks and adding two-factor authentication into the mix.

7. Install Anti-Virus Software on Your Device

Installing antivirus software is a helpful step in protecting yourself from identity theft. These tools can guard you when using public Wi-Fi networks through malware detection.

They’ll notify you of identity theft malware, possible information risks, and multiple other valuable data.

Antivirus software is an all-encompassing tool to protect your device from cybercrime, including identity theft. Install a free version from a well-established developer or take it to the next level by going premium.

Conclusion: What Should Identity Theft Victims Do?

If you are a victim of identity theft, the first thing to do is to avoid panic. It’s stressful, but you’ll need to keep your cool.

Then, file an identity theft report and notify any involved companies like banks that your personal information or bank account has been compromised. Also, contact the Federal Trade Commission and file one with them too.

Make sure to sound off the fraud alert on your credit reports, freeze your credit card if needed, and make your accounts safer by changing passwords and deleting sensitive data.

Go through your credit reports, scan your financial statements, and reach out to your local police station to file a police report.

We hope this guide was helpful and that you’ve learned something new about identity theft. 

Stay safe, everyone!