The Department of Justice, the U.S. Attorney’s offices and the IRS conducted a national sweep recently targeting identity theft suspects. This coast-to-coast effort led to 734 enforcement actions in January. To view a detailed map of the January 2013 IRS ID Theft enforcement actions click here.
Here are 5 Tips to Avoid Identity Theft:
1. Order your credit report – Monitoring your credit report is a great way to check to see if there is any suspicious activity or red flags. You can get your free annual credit report at annualcreditreport.com
2. Don’t re-use passwords – Even though it might be tempting to always use one password the danger is that if a criminal is able to use the password to one bank account, they then have access to your other accounts. Also if there is an option for additional security questions, use it! The optional security questions are questions you can choose from, and answers are ones that usually you would be the only to know. For example: Favorite grade school teacher.
3. Shred! – Shred mail and documents that might have information a criminal could use. Criminals can steal your identity just by picking up a bag of your trash. Buy an inexpensive shredder for home and make sure to shred anything that has your personal information on it.
4. When buying online make sure you use trusted sites – Payment processors like paypal and google check out are secure. Smaller shops that you are not sure about you may want to research. Also if you look at the bottom right hand corner and their is a padlock icon, that means you are using a secure site.
5. Know how to spot phishing – Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves to get your sensitive information by pretending to be a site you trust. Phishing schemes are successful because you believe that you’re just signing into your bank or credit card account, when it’s really a ploy to get your important information. Some red flags may be if the website address appears different. Also if they ask for more information than normal. If you receive an alert from a banking institution or credit card through email that you find suspicious do not click on links embedded in the email text. Instead call that institution and ask them about the email or you can open up a new browser and go to their actual website to see if everything is normal.
** Another helpful hint **
These days we do so much through our mobile phones and tablets. Make sure they are secure. Have a password to unlock your phones. Don’t save passwords to your banking app and emails. A lot of the time to re-set a password all a criminal will need is to send an email to your email account and if that email account is not “locked” on your phone they are able to get that information and reset all your passwords. Additionally, you can download apps to help find and secure your mobile phone and tablet.
Here are some options: http://www.informationweek.com/byte/personal-tech/smart-phones/apps-to-save-your-lost-or-stolen-iphone/232901440