Identity theft is the fastest-growing crime in the United States.
Becoming a victim of identity theft can have far-reaching consequences. From considerable damage to your credit score and finances to having your sensitive information exposed, there’s the potential for a lot of inconveniences that may cost you both time and money.
There are countless blunders that anyone can make that may leave you susceptible to identity theft. We looked at 5 mistakes you’ll want to avoid to help keep your personal information and identity safe:
Neglecting to keep an eye on account activity
If there is any suspicious activity on your accounts, it will probably show up on your statements.
It’s easy to ignore statements, particularly if you’re going paperless, but making a habit of looking over all your transactions can save you a lot of grief. This way you’ll be able to identify any suspicious charges in a timely manner, as opposed to months down the road.
Not leveraging technology to your advantage
These days, a majority of consumers do their banking online.
The upside is that most banking platforms allow you to set up notifications for just about anything from your balance dropping below a certain threshold to a soft pull performed on your credit.
Furthermore, avoid using the same password for all of your online accounts. Your online banking logins will be in danger if just one of your accounts is compromised — and you don't want that. Use a password manager to effectively avoid this headache.
A password manager is one of many features included with Aura's protection plans. The company has built its business around the promise of keeping your identity safe with helpful features like ID theft protection, antivirus, parental controls, fraud detection, and much more.
Ignoring red flags
If you receive emails or letters referencing accounts you don’t recall opening or purchases you never carried out, that could be a sign of fraud. Double-check all ATM withdrawals. Also, if you see small deposits below $1 that you don’t recognize, reach out to your financial institution for more information.
Moreover, receiving calls from creditors who have some basic knowledge of your personal identity is also a red flag. Check your statements to make sure no potentially fraudulent activity is happening in regard to your accounts.
The sooner you contact your bank or credit card company, the better chances you have of solving the issue and avoiding payment liability.
Not taking data breaches seriously
Data breaches are common occurrences nowadays, exposing financial, medical, and government records from thousands — sometimes millions — of consumers. If you suspect any of your accounts have been compromised, change passwords and PIN numbers immediately — better safe than sorry.
Data breaches are no joke. One of the largest data breaches in history exposed 3 billion user accounts. That’s countless data in the hands of bad actors ready to commit fraud with users’ personal information.
Forgetting your credit reports
You’re entitled to one free credit report from all three credit bureaus (Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion) every year. Take advantage of this and monitor your credit accordingly.
If you see anything on your reports that you do not recognize or anything that could be considered remotely suspicious, reach out to the credit bureau to find out more.
Identity theft is rampant in the United States, representing a clear and present danger for all consumers, particularly those who make online purchases and bank on digital platforms.
The best way to prevent any potential damage is to take the necessary steps to avoid becoming a victim. Should cybercriminals come upon your personal information, do your best to mitigate the damage because the threat is real and everyone is exposed without exception.