It’s a sad but true reality: you are still not so safe when it comes to identity theft. In fact, identity theft tops the list of consumer complaints that are reported to the FTC every year.
But what can you do to protect yourself?
Well, actually, you can do a lot of things. They have an awesome list of what to do if it happens to you (don’t panic), but follow this list below to protect yourself from having your identity stolen in the first place:
1. Use a Password Manager
Do not use the same password for everything! Stop doing that! Instead, use a password manager (we like Dashlane), which lets you create a master password, then once you use that, the system will generate very strong passwords for every new account you create. It’s the same (to you) as using the same password everywhere, but it’s far more secure. Hey, at this point, I don’t even know the password to my Twitter account. And that’s the way I like it.
2. Watch Your Mailbox
This is tough, because you’re going to watch your mailbox to see if anything is missing. Are any of your bills going missing? Make sure you sign up for paperless billing for as many places as possible, but keep an eye out on your mailbox, especially if it’s close to the road. Identity thieves can take credit card preapprovals and sign up as you.
3. Closely Monitor Your Bank Activity
Every day, log in to your bank account, and make sure you (or the person who shares your bank account) can identify every charge. The credit card companies are likely to pick up incongruencies like ordering pizza from a city you’ve never been to, but they’re less likely to notice charges made in your own town. The best identity thieves will add small payments here and there, and see if you notice, before going on a shopping spree.
4. Consider A More Secure Way to Pay Online
Instead of your credit card, use something like paysafecard when shopping online. Paysafecard is a reloadable gift card that comes in various denominations, and when you use it to pay online, you don’t have to enter any personal details. It’s like paying cash online, except without the purse snatchers.
5. Check Your Credit Every Year
Even when you slip in your diligence, you should set a calendar reminder to check your credit once a year. Or, better yet, sign up for a free CreditSesame account, which will check your credit, and monitor it monthly, for free.
Getting your identity stolen is a stressful and painful situation that is fun for absolutely nobody (except, of course, the person who stole your identity to eat pizza in Las Vegas at the Bellagio). An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, right?