In addition to the financial toll of identity fraud, victims are left with the difficult task of repairing the damage. While you may never be able to completely prevent your identity from being stolen, there are some proactive steps you can take to help minimize the risk. Here are 6 tips to prevent identity fraud:
Enable two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication provides an added layer of security to the login process by prompting the user to take a separate action beyond providing a user name and password to access an account. To aid in this process, you might want to consider using an authenticator app. These programs generate a random, multi-digit code every 30 seconds for enhanced security.
Use strong passwords
As a general rule, always use unique passwords that are at least 12 characters long with a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters. Since phrases are sometimes easier to remember, try creating a password using the first letter of each word in a phrase. Consider using a password manager to generate and store your passwords.
Secure your devices
With every transaction comes the risk that your personal information may be compromised. To prevent a thief from stealing your identity, avoid public Wi-Fi in favor of using a VPN (virtual private network) and encrypting data stored on your devices. Make sure your anti-malware programs are up to date as well.
Freeze your credit
Placing a security freeze on your credit is a quick and easy way to prevent new accounts from being fraudulently opened in your name. Simply contact each of the three credit bureaus individually to place a freeze on your account. If you plan to apply for any new credit, you will need to follow the same process to unfreeze your file or authorize a temporary freeze.
Set up account alerts
If you are not in the habit of checking your accounts on a regular basis, set up account alerts to keep tabs on your transactions, balances, and other activity. The alert settings are fully customizable so you can get the real-time updates you need without being overwhelmed with unnecessary notifications.
Protect against unauthorized online transactions
Consumers can protect themselves by setting up alerts and establishing limits on online transactions. Fraud protection programs like 3-D Secure allow shoppers to assign a password to their credit card that is then verified whenever a transaction is processed through a site that supports the application.
Taking these steps of protection against identity fraud will give you peace of mind. For more information, explore the Identity Theft module on Your Financial Best.