Did you know there were 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018? According to Javelin Strategy, each case cost the victim an average of $1,050 – and that’s only the cost in dollars. When an individual’s identity is stolen, the thief wreaks major havoc on the victim’s financial health, which can take months, or even years, to recover from. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to prevent yourself from becoming the next victim:
1 – Monitor your credit and debit card
One of the best preventative measures you can take against identity theft is monitoring your credit and debit cards and to sign up for fraud alerts with your financial institution. It’s also a good idea to review your monthly credit card bills or statements for any charges you don’t remember making. Even better, check your debit purchase history regularly in online and mobile banking and your credit card purchases online.
2 – Check your credit report and score
You can check your credit score quarterly with Northern’s EZShield identity theft protection and order an annual credit report once a year from each of the three credit reporting agencies at AnnualCreditreport.com. Check your score for any sudden hits and look through your reports for suspicious activity.
3 – Invest in identity theft protection
Identity theft can be an expensive nightmare. Be proactive about protecting your identity and keep your information safe. Northern offers members affordable, top-of-the-line identity theft protection through EZShield for just $4.99 a month. EZShield monitors you and your family’s personal information and alerts you to potential fraudulent activity.
4 – Use multi-factor authentication
When banking online, or using any other service that utilizes sensitive information, always choose multi-factor authentication. If possible, use your thumbprint as one means of identification. Otherwise, use multiple passwords, PINs or personal questions to make it difficult for a hacker to break into your accounts.
5 – Use strong unique passwords
Never use identical passwords for multiple accounts. If you do so, you’re making yourself an easier target for identity thieves. Instead, create strong, unique passwords for every account you use. The strongest passwords use a variety of letters, symbols and numbers. If you find it difficult to remember multiple passwords, consider using a free password service, like LastPass or sign up for EZShield with Northern and get access to the Password Manager. You’ll only need to remember one master password and the service will safely store the rest.
6 – Upgrade your devices
Whenever possible, upgrade the operating system of your computer, tablet and phone to the latest versions. Upgraded systems will keep you safe from the most recent security breaches and offer you the best protection against viruses and hacks.