How to Protect Your I.D. Online
You just don't know where and when it will happen.
It can come at you from many different angles.
It can mess with your life.
Here is what you can do to avoid problems AND some steps to take if something has happened.
Things to avoid:
1) Sketchy email or phone call scams. IF you get an call or email about your electric bill, warrant for your arrest, cancelling your social security number or whatever...don't hit reply, don't talk to them on the phone. Hang up the phone, delete the email. If you want to double check. Open a new browser and sign into your account as you normally would or call the business/service in question and ask. BUT do it yourself. TRUST NO ONE!
I also heard to never say 'yes' when you get a weird call. That is hard. But if someone calls you...you answer...they ask "is this so-n-so"....DON'T SAY YES...say..."may I ask who's calling?" At least that way you have some idea if it the dentist just calling to confirm you appointment or someone you should hang up on.
2) Romance scams are when you are seduced by some hottie on-line who saw your photo and knew that you two were soul mates and HAD to be together...but they just need some money for....(fill in the blank). Don't send money or give you personal info to people you don't know. (That could be said for people you do know too, but that is for you to decide.)
3) Data breach is where an out-sider is able to access a computer system and gets info on you like...oh...your name, date of birth, social, maybe credit card numbers, passwords, medical or other personal info...stuff like that. This one is hard...the other two you have some control over, this just sort of happens to you and you learn about it after the fact, sometimes years after the fact.
I know, I know, you are saying..."Renee...how to I keep myself safe from this stuff short of using all cash and living alone in the woods?"
Honestly, I don't know if using all cash and living alone in the woods would even do it, but you can take some actions to protect yourself from this headache.
US News had these wonderful suggestions on actions you can take to protect yourself:
Credit reports: You can get FREE...yes free annual credit reports with the three big reporting agencies to see if someone has been setting up accounts you may not know about. US News even suggested doing one report every four months and not all three at once to just spread out the credit look. You also can "freeze" your credit so no accounts can be opened unless you "thaw" it out.
Check it out: check your online bank and credit card accounts frequently. Don't let anything unfamiliar go unnoticed, they will use make a small purchase to see if it's a "live" account...and then go for it.
Alerts: Many company have this so you get a notice when a transaction happens on your credit card. IF you made the purchase, it's cool, if not you can get on it.
If something happens, US News also suggests reporting it as soon as you can. Call your credit card, banking/financial intuitions, credit reporting agencies and even the police or social security office if needed. Change all you passwords to a "strong password."
And...keep an eye on your kids credit. If you start getting credit card offers or weird mail for the kids...check their credit reports too! By doing that on a regular basis it could save you and your kids lots of headaches in the future.
If you have more questions or concerns...ASK! Ask Google, ask your bank, ask your credit card company...there is so much information to help you.