6 Steps to Protect Your Identity Online

The 6 Steps To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft Online

Identity theft is a growing problem that everyone must take proactive action on. Here are easy to follow steps to protect you and your family from becoming a victim of identity theft online. The Equifax breach has exposed a hidden truth that most of you were already aware of – your personal data has not, is not, and will never be safe. Given this reality how can you protect yourself and your loved ones from becoming the victim of identity theft?

Follow these steps below!

Contents

Step 1: Here Is Your Personal Information All Over The Internet
Step 2: How To Clean Up Your Mailbox, Inbox, and Voicemail
Step 3: Monitor Your Credit (The Lazy approach)
Step 4: It’s 2017…Don’t get a Credit Card…Get a Virtual Card!
Step 5: Freeze It Right There!
Step 6: Put The Experts On Your Side!

Step 1: Here Is Your Personal Information All Over The Internet

The first step you should take is to remove yourself from publicly available databases which contain personal data. Unfortunately, most of the public is unaware that there are publicly available databases that you have the option to request removal from. Two of the most prominent sites out there today are Nuwber and Pipl.com. With Number, search for yourself and once you do, you will likely be surprised by just how much information they have on you. You can then copy that URL where your information is contained. At the bottom of the page, you will see a link “Remove from Directory” where you can paste that same URL. Unfortunately, with Pipl.com removing yourself is a bit more challenging. The reason is that Pipl scours and scrapes your personal information from publicly available sources such as Facebook. However, once you can see what is available on Pipl.com you can then visit those public profiles you control and adjust your privacy settings for each. SocialMediaExaminer has a step-by-step article on the most common social media profiles and the steps you can take to adjust your privacy settings for each.

Step 2: How To Clean Up Your Mailbox, Inbox, and Voicemail

It has to be one of the most annoying things to deal with…calls from unknown sources such as telemarketers and even scammers. Fortunately, you can add your number to the national do not call registry available at DoNotCall.gov. But what about scammers and fraudsters? Today, there are a number of phone apps you can use on both Android and iOS to alert you of scammers and fraudsters. The app I have found the most success with is Truecaller. Truecaller is constantly adding numbers to their database so when a number calls you that is suspected to be a scammer or fraudster Truecaller is activated and tells you that this is a scam or fraud before you pick the phone up and then it adds that number to your list of blocked phone numbers.

One of the best ways to protect you from identity theft and credit fraud is to stop the offers for credit from getting into your mailbox in the first place. The best way to do this is by visiting optoutprescreen.com where you can remove yourself from offers of credit for a period of 5 years or permanently. You can also opt-in which for the life of me can’t figure out why someone would want all those offers for credit (Debt) to fill their mailboxes.

And while you’re in the cleanup phase…why not unsubscribe from all those emails you no longer want! Head on over to unroll.me and get your inbox all cleaned up!

Step 3: Monitor Your Credit (The Lazy approach)

Each of the three reporting agencies offers credit monitoring service. The trouble with this is that once you are notified by these agencies that your credit has been compromised it is already too late. Instead, you should visit annualcreditreport.com to get your credit report every four months. Learnvest.com gives an excellent step-by-step procedure for how best to get your credit report.

Step 4: It’s 2017…Don’t get a Credit Card…Get a Virtual Card!

Today, more of our transactions are made online. Simultaneously, breaches online are happening more and more. Traditionally, we use our unique credit and or debit card number over and over which only leads to a greater likelihood of a breach.

Instead of using your only unique credit and or debit card online we now have the option to create a unique card number for every transaction online. These numbers are fully encrypted and prevent you from having to use your one card number all over the internet. The digital fintech tool that I have used to create this unique presence online is Privacy.com. Privacy.com allows you to create multiple card numbers. PCworld has a great review of privacy.com which I would highly recommend for anyone looking for this common sense solution.

Step 5: Freeze It Right There!

Do you really need to air out your credit so everyone can see and use it? Answer: No! If you already have a mortgage and a credit card and don’t plan to open up any more lines of credit (Debt!) than why not let the three reporting agencies (Equifax, Experian, and Transunion) know that you have no interest in opening up any more credit (Debt!) and freeze it right there! For a nominal fee ($5 – $15 in most states) you can freeze your credit for good. And don’t worry, this action will not affect your current lines of credit that are already open. And, if you eventually want to unfreeze your credit (to go into debt!) you can do so with a unique PIN that is provided to you when you froze your credit in the first place.

With this, there is a caveat…sometimes those lenders willing to put you in debt in the hopes of collecting fees and interest from you in the future they open a line of credit in your name and your social security number without even checking with the three reporting agencies first! So, even after you have frozen your credit you can still become a victim of identity theft. So, how can this be prevented? In short, it can’t! At least not as of today. However, there is one final thing you can do!

Step 6: Put The Experts On Your Side!

Once you become a victim of identity theft it can be a nightmare cleaning up the mess! So, why not put the experts on your side before you become a victim? I use Zander Identity Theft Protection to clean up the mess on my behalf so I can get on with my life! When you sign up for Zander’s Identity Theft you are protected against the future hassle of cleaning up the mess on your own. Once you become a victim you are assigned a team of experts at Zander to notify all the responsible parties (Banks, Credit Card companies) on your behalf. So no more hassling with anyone over the phone about the fact that you really are who you say you are. To see all the benefits of Zander’s Identity Theft Protection visit them online.

To stay up to date on all matters related to identity theft check out our identity theft page.

Update: Andrew & Tom on their podcast Listen Money Matters did a great podcast episode, “Don’t Get Hacked: 9 Ways To Improve Your Online Security (and Protect Your Money) that covered some of the items above as well as a couple of other excellent tips! P.S. Good tip…help your parents and family with these steps as well. As a reader of this website, you are already aware of the importance of protecting yourself online. Unfortunately, most of the public is not so help your loved ones with this critical process.

This article by Jeff first appeared on FinTech Freedom and was distributed by the Personal Finance Syndication Network.