This new year, add a few resolutions to your list that will be easier to keep than a grueling new workout regimen or even passing on dessert at dinner. As incidences of identity theft continue to soar, a few simple regular additions to your normal routine can minimize your risk of identity fraud and keep your personal data and finances safe.
Update your Passwords
We’ve heard over and over that online passwords should be complex with a series of letters, numbers, and special characters, but recent guidance from the National Institute of Standards and Technology, based on behavioral research and a thorough understanding of the evolving skills of hackers, has flipped this notion on its head. For many, changing passwords every 90 days means that they’re shifting a single letter or possibly selecting something that is weaker.
Resolution: Do one sweep of all your passwords and replace them with a long string of words and phrases rather than a random selection of letters, numbers and characters. Picture a scene in your head and then use that as your new password. These are more difficult to break cryptographically and will be easier to remember.
Place or Update Fraud Alerts
Last year was particularly auspicious in terms of highly-public, large-scale data breaches. Many cybersecurity experts suggest that you should assume that your data has been exposed in one way or another. The most important thing to consider is what you’re doing to minimize your risk if that exposed data does get into the wrong hands.
Resolution: All three major credit bureaus allow fraud alerts to be placed on file so that if significant changes are made – such as the opening of new accounts – the applicant’s identity must be verified in advance. Participants in our identity theft protection program can contact our 24/7 identity theft protection specialists for assistance, or you can contact each bureau directly by phone or online.
File Your Taxes Early
While the IRS and other public and private agencies have implemented new procedures and technologies to crack down on tax-related identity fraud, the risk of having your tax refund stolen is still present – and can result in a very lengthy and arduous process to resolve. As soon as filing season is open, scammers with access to stolen Social Security numbers and basic personal data, such as an address, can file with the IRS and collect the refunds.
Resolution: Begin your preparations as soon as you receive the necessary documents from your employer and financial institutions, and file your returns with a registered preparer.
Enroll in our Identity Theft Protection Program
Proactive identity monitoring is an important first line of defense when trying to minimize the risk of identity theft. We use human and artificial intelligence to scan the deep and dark web where stolen personal data is bought and sold. In the event that we detect suspicious activity, we’ll alert you so you can take quick action and prevent damage.
Resolution: Purchase our identity protection today for added protection and peace-of-mind.