About 15 million people a year fall victim to identity theft and although the methods that scammers use to steal your information are high-tech, it isn’t that difficult.
In some instances a search of the internet can enable criminals to gain access to your personal information and this can be done by sifting through databases and details already available on the internet.
One of the easiest ways to protect yourself is to keep the information posted on social media to a minimum and change your passwords regularly. In the wake of the recent well publicized large scale data breaches, and the recent Home Depot breach, watching your credit and debit cards is essential.
They say that hackers, believed to be from the Ukraine or Russia, captured credit and debit account numbers and other personal information belonging to a number of Home Depot shoppers. If you’re one of the tens of millions who shopped at Home Depot the last five months and paid with plastic, you are eligible for identity theft protection and I suggest you should take up the offer.
To help prevent ID theft, you should monitor your own accounts for suspicious activity by checking your monthly statement line by line for unusual charges. You should set up an alert with your credit or debit card, where you get an email for any large purchases, say, over $250. As an additional measure check your credit report every year and shred all statements that contain account numbers.
Also these events create further opportunities for scammers. So be suspicious of any email, phone call, letter or text you get that claims to be from your bank, Home Depot or law enforcement. Do not click on any links or reply with any personal information such as your password, account number, Social Security number, address or other details.