10 Identity Theft Prevention Tips for Your Family
Every family should have an identity theft prevention plan. If a loved one’s information is stolen, it can cause a ripple effect throughout the family unit. Here we offer several tips for ensuring you and your family stay secure:
1. Monitor Your Finances
One of the easiest ways to protect your family from identity theft is by monitoring your finances. Check your monthly bank statements and credit card reports for unauthorized charges. Set up fraud alerts on your accounts to prevent thieves from racking up charges on your dime.
2. Protect Your Computer
Digital security is a must for protecting your family from identity theft. Make sure your devices are updated with the latest firewall, anti-virus, and anti-malware protection. And don’t forget about your family’s smartphones. Download only well-known and widely-reviewed Android and iPhone applications.
3. Limit Sharing on Social Media
Fear of missing out, or “FOMO,” leads to oversharing of personal information on social media. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts are easy targets for identity thieves. From family vacation dates to your child’s birth date, be careful what you post.
4. Secure Your Mail
Over the past several years, all of Canada’s provinces have seen a steady increase in mail theft. Thieves vandalize mailboxes and make off with the personal information inside. Be sure to take precautions with your mail: lock your mailbox, empty it frequently, and never leave bill payments with checks or credit card information in an unlocked mailbox for pickup. Instead, mail them from a Canada Post facility or another secure location.
5. Shred Unwanted Documents
Thieves can easily steal discarded mail, billing statements, and mail in your curbside trash and recycling bins. Using a local walk-in shredding service eliminates having to shred these items with a shredding machine. Instead, in a matter of minutes, your documents are unloaded from your car and destroyed on the spot while you watch!
6. Request Free Credit Reports
Each member of your family is entitled to one free credit report every year from one of the two major credit reporting bureaus in Canada: Equifax and Transunion. Be sure to request your credit reports every year and scrutinize them for suspicious or incorrect information.
7. Use Strong Passwords
Every member of your family should have a unique password for every app and website login. A strong password consists of at least 10 characters and includes a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. Most websites and applications now offer two-factor authentication; use it as an added layer of password protection.
8. Back Up Your Data
Ransomware takes your digital data and holds it ransom until you pay (dearly) to get it back. Ransomware attacks are becoming increasingly common. Back up your data frequently to a portable hard drive or invest in an electronic backup or cloud service to prevent your digital files from being stolen.
9. Watch Out for Phishing Scams
Scam artists “phish” for victims by sending emails and pretending to be banks, credit card providers, or government agencies. Don’t respond to online or phone requests for personal information, account numbers, or passwords. Legitimate companies will contact you by mail. Falling for a phishing scam can lead to an empty bank account, so don’t take the bait.
10. Use Caution When Shopping Online
It’s never been easier to shop for your family from your computer, tablet, or phone. But if you’re not careful, you may be giving away valuable financial and personal information. Only shop on websites with “https” in the address bar. If you don’t see a padlock symbol in your browser window, it means your personal information isn’t being encrypted.
Phoenix Recycling provides records shredding and destruction services to all of Manitoba. For more identity theft prevention tips, please contact us by phone or complete the form on this page.