Twenty years ago, the notion of having your identity stolen would have been inconceivable to most. But today, with personal information being stored electronically and shared online, identity fraud is a real and common vulnerability. It is important to understand the extent to which you are at risk in order to take steps to protect yourself.
Do you like getting a discount?
If you are the kind of person that takes advantage of sales and discounts, you may, in fact, be vulnerable to identity fraud. Retail stores entice you to sign up for their credit cards by offering discounts, and as a result, retail store credit cards represent almost 40% of all credit cards issued.
Usually, when you apply for these credit cards, you do so in the store, and then hand the form over to the clerk. This sensitive information is available to anyone who has access to the stack of applications, which makes you especially vulnerable to identity fraud.
Do you shop online?
Online shopping has become a mainstream practice, and we all know why – it’s easy, efficient and often more affordable. Usually, when you shop online with a credit card, you are protected by sophisticated encryption and privacy software.
However, if you are shopping on a site that is unfamiliar to you, or newly established, you cannot take for granted that these protections are in place. Take the time to research the company to make sure that they are using the right technology for online transactions.
Do you love to travel?
If you are a frequent traveler, you may be more at risk than most people.
Crowded airports and bus terminals are rife with pickpocketers, so your personal information is, quite literally, at their fingertips. Furthermore, if you use public WiFi networks that are unsecured, you are very much exposing your identity to poachers. Take care when you travel to protect your personal data.
Do you use your smartphone excessively?
Research conducted by Javelin Strategy indicates that smartphone users are 33% more likely to be the victims of identity theft. This is probably because increasingly, we use our smartphones to pay bills, make purchases, check balances, and other sensitive tasks. All it takes is for someone to peek over your shoulder in line at the grocery store or coffee shop, and you are suddenly at risk. If you use your smartphone to multitask, make sure you conceal the screen in order to protect your private information.
These are just some of the ways that you may be putting yourself, and your identity, at risk. Taking steps to protect yourself, with these risk factors in mind, can go a long way to ensure that your identity is protected.
For more information on what to do if your identity has been stolen, contact Miller Bernstein today.