New Year’s Eve is always a worldwide celebration. In the U.S., people watch the ball drop in Times Square in New York City. Canadians embrace the winter with ice fishing and polar bear swims. Revelers swing flaming fireballs at Hogmanay in Scotland and the Danes smash china for good luck.
No matter what your New Year’s tradition involved, New Year’s Day started a brand new year. As you review the plans you made for 2019, be sure you resolved to take some easy steps to ensure a safe, healthy and wealthy New Year for your identity. Here are some tips:
Identity theft is happening around you, all of the time. Keep your identity safe by raising your awareness of the risks of identity theft. In the U.S. alone, 16.7 million people become victims of identity theft annually. Protect your personal information and be selective about the types of businesses you provide sensitive information. For example, if you are joining a new gym, is there really a reason to give them your social security number? If in doubt, ask why they want it and then make your own decision. Speak softly and be aware of those around you if you need to verbalize personal information at a doctor’s office, credit union or other institution.
Another way to reduce risk to your identity is to keep a secured backup of your personal documents such as your passport, drivers license, credit card and credit union account numbers. Speaking of personal documents, when you clean out file cabinets or throw away mail, check carefully for personally identifying information. Shred anything that might be useful to an identity thief.
You have worked your entire life to develop a good reputation. Be cautious with what you share through social media. Carefully set up your privacy settings on each social platform. Make sure your children understand what is safe and healthy to share online and what is not.
Safeguard the health of your computer in order to secure your identity online. Keep antivirus and malware protection software up to date, and install operating system updates. Make a regular backup of your computer hard drive, so that you can recover quickly in the event of a phishing or ransomware attack.
Use good password hygiene, including upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols in each unique password. For added convenience and protection, consider using a password manager app to generate strong passwords and store them securely for you.
When identity thieves strike, they usually target your financial information. Last year, cybercrime cost victims $172 billion globally. Do not use the same passwords for online banking that you use for other types of accounts. Never access online banking accounts over public Wi-Fi networks, as they are not as secure as private, password-protected networks. Do not log onto online banking from public computers, such as those found at a library or hotel business center.
View your credit reports annually to check for errors. Request reports from all major credit bureaus. Consider signing up for a credit and identity monitoring service to alert you right away to any suspicious activity or new credit accounts opened in your name.
Genisys Credit Union offers its members tools to combat identity theft. Check out our free member service, CyberScout Identity Theft 911®. CyberScout is leading the charge against hackers and thieves, providing identity management, credit monitoring and cybersecurity for more than 17.5 million households and 770,000 businesses.
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2018 Identity Survey, Javelin Strategy & Research
2017 Norton Cyber Security Insights Report Global Results