How to Protect Your Identity and Other Assets

Use these tips to help prevent identity theft and keep your assets safe.

Published: May 5, 2023

 

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What We'll Cover

  • The risks of identity theft
  • Best practices to prevent identity theft
  • How to identify an online scam
  • Resources for fraud victims

In today’s digitally connected world, the risk of identity theft is hard to avoid. Every day, people fall victim to identity theft, and the consequences can be devastating. But there are ways you can minimize identity theft risks and stay ahead of scammers and thieves who want your personal information.

Know the Risks

According to the Pew Research Center, nearly 30% of Americans were impacted by at least one of three kinds of major identity theft within the previous 12 months of being surveyed. The most common was fraudulent charges on their credit or debit card (21%), while 8% had someone take over their social media or email without their permission, and 6% had someone try to open a credit card or get a loan in their name.

Unfortunately, when scammers assume your identity, you may be liable for their debts and charges.

 

Use Credit Card Protections

Use credit cards to limit your cash liability. Most credit card companies have zero-liability fraud protection policies, and federal law limits cardholder liability to $50, no matter how much was charged. To benefit from this fraud protection, you need to report changes within 30 days.

Make it a habit to regularly review transactions on your statements and immediately report any unauthorized purchases or transactions. It can be a hassle to deal with these issues, even if you aren’t on the hook for charges. Better to minimize the risk with a few best practices to prevent identity theft.

Best Practices to Prevent Identity Theft

  • Be cautious about giving anyone, including friends and family, your key numbers and other financial information. Even if you can trust them with this info, they may be less careful with it than you.
  • Choose unique PINs. Avoid using your Social Security number, birthdate, or variations that are easy to guess.
  • Don’t keep your PIN written down in your wallet.
  • Keep a list of your relevant account numbers in a secure place. Include details on how to cancel or suspend cards if you lose them or suspect fraudulent activity.
  • Tear up or shred receipts and bills before you throw them away.
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Look for Security Signs

Before you purchase anything online, check for important security safeguards. Reputable companies use an SSL certificate to verify the website’s identity and provide an encrypted connection.

Checking for an SSL certificate is simple—look for a lock symbol to the left of the company name and "https" in the URL.

https in the URL - Chrome

Google Chrome

https in the URL - Firefox

Firefox

https in the URL - Edge

Microsoft Edge

Watch Your Links

Phishing links often imitate legitimate companies or websites as a way to procure your personal information. Before you click a link or attachment—even those from companies or people you know and trust—check for typos, misspellings, or other red flags. It’s possible that scammers are posing as the company, and clicking the link could allow scammers to access your info or download a virus to your device.

Be wary of pushy calls-to-action or limited-time offers that require your personal information. Deals that seem too good to be true often are.

 

Be Cautious with Public Wi-Fi

Public Wi-Fi networks are not secure. Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks for sensitive transactions, such as online banking or shopping. If you must use public Wi-Fi, use a virtual private network (VPN) to encrypt your connection.

 

Beware of Telemarketing Traps

Offers of free trips, discounted magazine subscriptions, and the like are the most common forms of telemarketing. Sometimes, these calls are legit. Other times…not so much.

Telemarketing fraud impacts all ages, but it’s the top contact method for fraud reports for people ages 70-79 and 80 and older. The most common scams include business imposters, tech support scams, prizes, sweepstakes and lotteries, and government imposters. In fact, the most reported fraud cases in 2022 were for imposter scams.

If you receive an unsolicited phone call from a company you don’t know, ask them to send you information in the mail about their products or offer. Even if the call is from a company that you’re familiar with or have done business with in the past, be careful about giving out personal information over the phone.

This includes your:

  • Bank account information
  • Credit card numbers
  • Social Security number

Report suspicious calls to the FTC by filing a consumer complaint form or calling the hotline, 1.877.FTC.HELP (1.877.382.4357).

You can also add your number to the Do Not Call List, but keep in mind there are still millions of violations of numbers on the list.

 

Resources for Victims

To learn more about fraud and its impacts on your financial security, visit Fraud.org, the National Consumer League’s Fraud Information Center website.

Contact your financial institution or credit card company if you think your account has been compromised. Then visit IdentityTheft.gov to report the theft and find out next steps.

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Have you experienced a scam?

Contact the OneAZ security team immediately.

Call 844.663.2928

Key Takeaways

  • Regularly review transactions on your statements and immediately report any unauthorized purchases or transactions
  • Use best practices, like choosing unique PINs and keeping your account information in a secure place, to help prevent identity theft.
  • Connect to a VPN when using public Wi-Fi.
  • Check for an SSL certificate before making a purchase online.
  • Report suspicious telemarketing calls to the FTC, and do not give out personal information over the phone.

Protecting your identity and other assets is essential in today's digital age. By following these tips, you can reduce your risk of identity theft and other types of fraud.

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