The most significant moments of life are among the ones when there is a greatest risk of identity theft. Whenever you’re about to share your Social Security Number, you’re putting your identity at risk. According to LifeLock, the identity-theft service provider, disclosing any particular personal information can be risky.
The life events which can put you at a higher risk include the following:
- Buying or selling of property
- Marriage and Divorce
- Having or adopting a child
- Getting or losing a job
According to the research, these events can increase the risk of identity theft from anywhere between 50 percent to 400 percent. Getting or losing a new job is the least risky among the above events, with a risk increase of 50 percent. Having a child is expected to increase your risk by 270 percent, while marriage and divorce, in the past twelve months, increase it by 350 percent. But buying a house is the most risky, with your chances of identity theft increasing by 400 percent.
Paige Hanson, the educational programs manager from LifeLock, shed some light into this matter. According to her, people provide their personal information just because they’re asked for it, as opposed to asking why they needed to provide that. By asking why, people may be able to inquire about the procedures and they could force changes into the security standards.
The risk is mostly caused by people posting their personal information in the open rather than a data breach. For example, some engaged couples post their post-wedding plans, including the location of their honeymoon on the wedding websites, or parents sharing the name of their newborn child along with the date of birth. If you post to jobs, do online shopping or check dating websites on wifi networks that are public and unsecure, you’re increasing the risk of unintentionally sharing your personal data.
To avoid identity thefts, the IRS recommends you to follow certain precautions. These include the following:
- Social Security Number: You should not carry your Social Security Number, or the other documents associated with it. It should be stored in a secure place. No one should gain access to your SSN.
- Protect other documents: Other documents, such as your Date of Birth, Passport, etc, should be protected. This can be done by carrying only the required documents with you instead of all the documents.
- Protect your computer: Personal computers must be protected from spyware and keyloggers. Different from viruses and adware, these programs are specifically designed for stealing, so that they can collect most of the sensitive data like credit card numbers and passwords. An updated firewall along with an antivirus program and an anti spyware program provides individual protection for your personal computer.
- Check Statements: You must check all your statements annually. These include your credit report and Social Security Administration earning. If you find an error in these statements, you must immediately contact the bank.
If you’re a victim of identity theft, you need to act quickly. You have to do whatever you can to minimize your reputation and funds. Here are a few steps you can follow:
- You should contact credit providers to make sure that you cancel your cards and any other lines of credit.
- File a police report as it is essential for the insurance company as well as the credit agencies. It is important both as a record and a documented police activity.
- Contact one of the credit agencies and explain what has happened. Ask for fraud alert and follow their advice for your accounts.
You can find additional help in such a case at http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/feature-0014-identity-theft.