8 Tips to Prevent Identity Theft & Fraud

Career

8 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Bad: You lost your wallet. Worse: Someone else is racking up debt in your name. Good: You can prevent this!

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148 million people (including me!) had their information stolen when Equifax, a major credit bureau that collects all your most sensitive and personal information (everything thieves would need to impersonate you), got hacked. But this wasn’t the first big hack, nor will it be the last.

8 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Imagine that you’re working hard to save up for that car or house you’ve always wanted, or that business loan you so desperately need to take your business to the next level. Out of nowhere you start getting loan statements in the mail from banks you don’t have accounts at. It only gets worse as you are notified of purchases you haven’t made for various, expensive items. Or maybe you don’t get any notices and you only realize years later when you apply for that loan; your credit has gone from 800 to 100. What’s going on??

The concept of identity theft was once a far-fetched idea, but now has become a super-common crime. Over 8 million Americans became victims of identity theft last year alone, a crime amounting to over $45 billion.

Criminals are able to pretend to be you and make financial transactions (like opening credit cards, taking out loans, buying cars, etc.) using your identity and social security number. Criminals can get your info any of a number of ways, like hacking, spyware, or simply mailing in any of the pre-approved credit card offers sent to you unsolicited (more on that — see tip #3).

8 Simple Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Fight back with these tips!

Think you can just get a credit monitoring and “protection” service to protect you? Think again. Those services charge a small fortune for what you can get for free, and they don’t prevent identity theft — they just let you know there’s a problem after the fact. #useless

There are ways to protect yourself from identity theft and prevent something like this from happening to you. The steps are surprisingly easy and better than the alternative of spending months dealing with the banks and credit bureaus to untangle your credit and debt issues. Read on:

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A writer, artist, and designer since she was young enough to put pencil to paper, Hilary taught herself code and created Urbanette when she was a teenager. Currently, she spends most of her time in France, NYC, London and Switzerland, and travels extensively around the world. Hilary spent the past decade living in NYC, still considers herself a New Yorker, and visits regularly. She's always looking for hot new topics, destinations, and brands to bring to Urbanette readers.

Reader Discussion: 106 Comments

  1. April Wagner

    Isn’t the government aware of this? How is the ministry of economy allowing these scammers to get away with it like this? This is all so crazy. I’m curious to find out more, and educate myself on this. Thank you.

  2. Carly Hawkins

    I try my best to use small wallets just so I won’t be tempted to put all my cards there when I go out. Before I even head out I think of the things that I need to purchase beforehand and just put 1 card that can give me everything I need. Aside from the fact that I could probably save money by being aware of what I have to purchase or what I don’t need to purchase, it also prevents me from getting into a big fuss if I lose my wallet along with a bunch of cards in it.

  3. Mary Green

    Don’t let these companies trick you. I also haven’t seen any company that managed to prevent thefts before it even happened. Unless they have an employee that has clairvoyance. ?

  4. Tricia Marie

    It’s also important to keep track of all your cards. There are busy people out there that have like 5 cards and I’m like… How do you keep track of those?

    • Amelee Adelaide

      I agree that it’s important that you keep a copy of the details of your cards in a safe place. It’s also useful for emergencies aside from identity theft. God, I hope my identity never gets stolen! That sounds AWFUL!

      • Seth Clarke

        An emphasis on the CANCEL YOUR CARDS IMMEDIATELY. Don’t wait until you’re in a debt bigger than the empire state building.?

  5. Nica Holmes

    Most of us don’t have shredders at home so take the time to at least tear or cut documents with substantial information with scissors. This takes a bit of work on your side but it’s better than getting your money stolen.

  6. Nathalie Klein

    It’s important to really create strong passwords. Don’t put your son or daughter’s birthday. That’s so easy to guess.

  7. Leila Bartholomew

    Great reference. A lot of people don’t know who or where to call when something like this happens!

  8. Kimberly Shaw

    If this happens to you, The first thing to do is move action and move aggressively, remember If someone has stolen your identity, they’re working as fast they can [to use your information] before you realize what’s happened.

  9. While identity theft can happen to anyone, there are some things you can do to reduce your risk. If you think someone is using your personal information to open accounts, file taxes, or make purchases, visit IdentityTheft.gov to report and recover from identity theft.

  10. Roxy Fellows

    Even if you’re a busy person, take the time to tend to these kinds of problems if you want it solved immediately too.

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