Are you using a password manager or two-factor authentication for important accounts? If you aren't, your identity may not be properly safeguarded. From following digital safety best practices to having an identity protection service like ours, identity theft protection involves a wide range of measures that protect what makes you, you.
Many everyday tasks and activities are easier thanks to tech. But the more documents and information that are digitalized, the easier it is for criminals to steal identities.
This ease of access has made identity theft a more common occurrence. According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, there's an identity theft victim every 22 seconds — and experts predict that number will only go up this year.
The good news? With a little knowledge, you can avoid becoming part of this statistic.
Identity protection in a nutshell
Identity protection refers to any measure that helps safeguard your identity and prevent your personal information from being stolen and misused.
Think of identity theft protection as a toolbox: One tool is to create strong, unique passwords for all your digital accounts. Another is signing up for an identity protection service that monitors your financial accounts and credit reports for you.
You can also protect yourself in the physical world, by shredding your financial statements and important documents once they're no longer needed.
Why you need identity protection
Your Social Security number, credit card details, and bank account numbers are among the most sought-after pieces of personal information for identity thieves. Once stolen, the damage can be severe, and it can be time-consuming to recover.
Identity theft can lead to significant financial loss. With stolen identities, criminals can make unauthorized purchases, open fraudulent accounts, and leave you to pay, or even drain your real bank accounts.
During 2022 alone, we saved our members over $5 million in losses related to all kinds of identity theft (including medical identity theft, tax identity theft, and new account fraud).
The right identity protection measures can help protect your wallet and ensure financial stability for your future.
Additionally, identity theft can hurt your credit score. With certain personal information, thieves can use your name to take out loans or open credit cards. Multiple inquiries on your credit history can drop your credit rating.
What’s worse, if the thief misses the payments and you can't pay back the loans taken out in your name, your credit rating may also suffer.
Legal issues can also arise from identity theft. In a worst-case scenario, if a criminal uses someone else's identity to commit a crime, the victim could be wrongly implicated.
For instance, this 2019 case shows how one man's life was disrupted when a scammer used his identity to open fraudulent accounts, and he was left to deal with the consequences of that crime.
Protecting your identity could keep you out of unnecessary legal troubles and save you the stress and cost of legal proceedings.
How to protect your identity
Practice online security. Take a few minutes to boost your digital defenses. Use a VPN to browse the web, turn on two-factor authentication (2FA) for important accounts, and remove private information from your social media profiles.
Stay up to date on the latest cyber threats. One way to do this is to subscribe to email newsletters from trusted security sources. Or, read up on trending online and offline threats, like cryptocurrency and payment app scams or mail theft and shoulder surfing.
Sign up for an identity protection service, if you haven't already. A service like ours monitors your credit and bank accounts for signs of identity fraud and theft. Because the quicker you spot fraudulent activity, the quicker you can resolve it.