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Pioneer Blog

Are You Doing Enough to Protect Your Identity?

Posted on March 18, 2019

Identity theft is a huge problem and nobody is completely protected against it. Cyber criminals are constantly hunting for their next victim, and that could be you. Don’t leave your identity (and finances) vulnerable, do all you can to keep yourself safe. Here are some steps you should take to help prevent identity theft.

Make Sure Your Email is Secure

padlock sitting on top of a laptopYour email is a wealth of knowledge and a main target for identity thieves. Likely, you’ve sent all sorts of private information through email, like your birth date, credit card info, or maybe even your social security number.

A great starting point to is making your email account a fortress of security. First, update your password. Be sure it’s long, uses numbers and symbols, and is a bit complicated. Then, don’t ever use that password for other online accounts, like for Amazon or Pandora, like 59% of the population. That way, if a site’s data is breached, you aren’t giving criminals the password to your email.

Next, change your security questions. Avoid easy to guess questions like “What’s your Mother’s maiden name?” or “Where did you go to High School?” With a bit of research, a focused identity thief could find answers to these basic questions on your social media and get access to your account. Either write your own questions with answers only you know, or pick a question that’s very obscure.

Finally, know what devices have access to your email. Got an old phone or laptop you aren’t using? Make sure it can’t access your accounts anymore, or better yet, do a hard reset on it. Using a public computer? Be sure to log out of your email once you are done.

Set Your Social Media to Private

social media apps on an iphoneEverytime you post on social media, you give information away. What you might think is trivial, like a picture of your new home or a post remembering your childhood dog Fluffy, is potential information that could be used to steal your identity.

It’s a smart decision to set your social media profiles to private. Only allow people you know to see your posts and information. Even then, be cautious of what you post and avoid giving out your physical address or info you use as part of your security. If you’ve never done it before, go through all of your posts and delete ones that give away information others don’t need.

Sign Up for Alerts and Two Factor Authentication

Your credit cards, financial accounts, and many online stores allow you to set up alerts in case of suspicious activity. If they are available, use them. It’s better to deal with the occasional notification about something weird you bought than let yourself become a victim of fraud.

Similarly, just sign up for two factor authentication on all of your online accounts. Email, online retailers, social media, everything that lets you use it, protect yourself. That way, if somebody knows your email or user name and tries to log in, they’d still need your cell phone to gain access.

Beware of Scams

man in mask with a fishing hook over a man using a laptopScammers come in all shapes and sizes. They might call you pretending to be the IRS, pose as a friend on social media asking weird questions, or email you concerning “business deal.”

If somebody contacts you asking for private information, and you didn’t request it, don’t just give it to them. Don’t be afraid to hang up the phone or email them back later and do some research. Companies that deal with sensitive info, like social security or account numbers, will have policies for contacting people. For example, the IRS follows a policy of first sending a physical letter to people concerning their taxes and then will call people several days later.

If you think a call you’ve received is a scam, hang up and call the business or organization’s official phone number to double check. Get the name and position of who called you and inquire if they are a real employee and if they should be calling you at all. Then, if it is a legitimate call, they’ll connect you and you can proceed as normal.

Pioneer's ID Theft Protection

You don’t have to be alone in defending your identity. Pioneer’s ID Theft Protection can be that extra line of defense you need.This program can help you re-secure and protect your identity if it is compromised. Start to notice some suspicious activity on a credit card, or was one of your accounts hacked? All you would have to do is call Pioneer and connect you to your Personal Recovery Advocate.

Want to protect your accounts with Pioneer’s ID Theft Protection? Stop by your local branch or give us a call at (208) 587-3304 to get it set up on your accounts.

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