Protect your personal information with these simple measures
While it’s common to think identity theft won’t happen to us, we may be exposing ourselves to the threat of identity theft by revealing too much of our personal information online or even in our day-to-day lives.
Big life changes such as buying or selling a house, changing jobs, getting married, renting a new home or having kids often requires you to share a lot of your personal details with a third party.
Whether it’s applying for credit or filling out paperwork, you’re probably going to have to provide your full name, address, date of birth, maybe even your driver’s licence number and credit card or bank account details and this puts you at risk of having your identity stolen.
But there are also things in our everyday lives that put us at risk. Showing your full name, address and date of birth on social media, shopping online, or logging into your internet banking while on a public Wi-Fi network can increase your chances of having your identity stolen.
So what can we do to protect ourselves from identity theft? Let’s take a look at these three tips below.
1. Security is everything
Firewall, antivirus and strong passwords. Seems pretty obvious but it’s worth repeating. Make sure your firewall is turned on and your antivirus software is up to date. Use a different password for each of your accounts and make sure it’s strong. A strong password will include lower case letters, upper case letters, numbers, symbols and the blood of your first born child (okay, maybe not that last one). And of course, don’t share your passwords with anyone.
Now, we’re not saying that you should never give out your personal details online, but be sure you’re using trusted websites. When entering your details, make sure the website URL starts with https and the website has a SSL certificate (there should be a small padlock in the address bar).
2. Monitor your credit file
Entries on your credit file that you didn’t make or have no knowledge of can indicate that someone has used your identity to apply for credit. That’s just one of the reasons why it’s important to care about your credit score.
You are entitled to a free copy of your credit file from each credit reporting body in Australia once a year. You can also sign up to a free service like Credit Savvy to monitor your Experian credit file and receive alerts whenever there are changes to your file.
3. Go through your statements
It’s all in the details. Comb through your credit card and bank statements each month to make sure there are no fraudulent charges to your account. Remember, if someone gets a hold of your credit card or bank account details, they won’t necessarily go on a big spending spree. They might only make a few small purchases as these are less likely to be detected by the fraud monitoring systems used by credit card companies.
The bottom line is: be aware. Consider how you might be exposing yourself before giving out your personal details and put safeguards in place to protect your identity.
Do you have other tips for protecting your identity? Let us know in the comments below!
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