Guide | Money and Finance

Home > Guide > Money and Finance

Don’t Let Identity Theft Ruin Your Finances

Identity theft can come in all shapes and sizes.

For the individual or business owner who fall victim to this ever-growing crime, the results can be devastating.

From financial losses to a public relations nightmare (for the business owner), the fallout can be challenging to recover from.

That said there are means whereby both individuals and business owners can put up a wall to relatively safeguard themselves against identity theft.

Know the Best Lines of Defense

In order to decrease the chances of becoming the next identity theft victim, there are a number of defensive practices you can put in place.

To start with, always make sure you protect your personal and financial information when using the Internet.

Stop for a moment and think about how many times over the years you have probably gone on the Internet and been less than cautious.

Maybe you discussed financial information with a friend on Facebook? Perhaps you shared a picture on Instagram of a letter showing your home address or telephone number? Did you unfortunately download an attachment from someone who you thought was legit, only to later find out it was a scam in an effort to get some of your personal information?

Those are some of the scenarios where you could be giving up a portion of your financial and/or other personal details. Once an identity theft thief has those details, he or she could wreak havoc on your life.

You can lessen the chances someone will get ahold of your personal and/or financial information by doing the following:

  1. Practicing Internet safety – First and foremost, don’t be loose with your information when surfing the web. Any information that should stay private needs to do just that. Avoid mentioning personal banking details, retirement fund or Social Security information, credit card data, insurance policy tidbits and more. If you decide you must share such information with a friend or family member over the Internet, make sure it is done in a secure means (see more below);
  2. Finding the right protection – In the event you are searching for and/or in the need of identity theft protection, use the Internet and your relations (family and friends) to find the best protection at the best price. Whether you opt to take the LifeLock discount or another provider’s offer, it is imperative that you have some form of Internet protection in place for the safety of your digital identity. Also keep in mind that opting for the cheapest price in terms of I.D. theft protection is not always a good idea. Make sure you vet each and every provider to see which one best suits your needs. A provider may talk a good game, but they have to be able to prove to you beyond a shadow of a doubt that they are best suited to protect you in today’s busy digital world;
  3. Avoiding the wrong crowd – Knowing who truly are your friends online is important too. Be careful when you get asked by a family member or friend to download an attachment if it at all seems suspicious. While your family member or friend is likely not trying to scam you, an identity theft thief could have tapped into one of their accounts without their knowledge. As a result, they send you an open invitation to trouble if you download malware. In the event you think your online activities may have been compromised, be sure to alert those you know right away, giving them warning not to open any attachments you reportedly sent;
  4. Socializing safely – Finally, there is a good likelihood that you spend a fair amount of time on various social sites. In doing so, make sure you don’t spill important personal information of any kind that could come back to haunt you. When it comes to your social accounts, feel free to lock them up, allowing only family and friends (you fully trust) to have access to them. If you must share a personal item, use a direct or instant message to convey the details.

Using the Internet to conduct business and discover information on everything from improving one’s health to finding the best travel deals is common practice these days.

Given the fact it just takes one identity theft thief to cause you much personal and financial trouble, always play it safe when conducting online business or socializing.