|By Marketwired .
|June 20, 2014 07:04 AM EDT
NEW YORK, NY -- (Marketwired) -- 06/20/14 -- Currently, identity theft is occurring at such a high rate that the FBI is referring to it as "America's fastest growing crime." This form of theft can happen to anyone; however, there are methods that can help protect an identity. Whether the theft occurs from a high-tech hack or simply a stolen wallet, individuals must take precautions in order to prevent identity theft.
According to Creditnet.com, a leading online personal finance authority, the best ways to prevent identity theft may involve some creative tactics. And when traveling this summer, it is very beneficial to incorporate a few of these tactics to prevent identity theft.
1. Use Secure Wireless Networks
When traveling this summer, wireless internet can make life over the road convenient. However, this convenience can leave private information vulnerable to theft. Using free Wi-Fi networks in public areas such as hotels and cafes has its benefits; however, these places are not secure. In most cases, there is a lack of data-encryption protection. Any hacker with a basic understanding of plug-ins and basic computer systems can spy on other user's browser activity.
When possible, it is best to use more secure networks such as WPA2, WEP, and WPA. These networks require a log in password. If an open network is used, it is important to remember to log out all email accounts, banking information, and social media sites immediately after each session. Moreover, using encrypted sites such as sites with "https" in the url can protect against identity theft. Proceed with caution after a site warns that it is not secure or contains malware.
Lastly, when traveling this summer, remember to turn off the Smartphone's setting that automatically connects to local Wi-Fi networks. This feature may leak important information that can be used to steal an identity.
2. Monitor Credit Activity and Bank Statements
Taking advantage of free credit reports can help protect consumers from identity theft. This is not only important for understating specific accounts; but this report can show consumers any suspicious activity that has occurred on the account over the course of the year. This process is best completed before and after traveling. Many consumers find a peace of mind in knowing their exact credit score and the status of all open or closed collection accounts.
Monitoring bank statements and account activity on a frequent basis helps consumers stay aware of items they were charged for. It is important to monitor both pending items and cleared items. This practice will help consumers recognize a pending or cleared purchase that is suspicious. In the event of a fraudulent purchase, the consumer can inform the bank and report it prior to the transaction's completion.
3. Protect All Personal Information
Protecting trash, mail, social security numbers, account numbers, passwords, and PINs is important for preventing identity theft. This information should be discarded properly and held in a safe place within the home. Although it may be tempting, never use the same password for every account. This is the number one mistake consumers make that help an identity thief gain access to an account. Beware of scam phone calls and providing telephone numbers. Thieves can use this information to steal an identity. Lastly, only provide a social security number when it is required. Do not print this number on checks or carry the card in a wallet.
4. Shred Documents
As stated above, it is important to discard all personal information properly. Shredding documents can make it more difficult for identity thieves to obtain the information needed to steal an identity. For that reason, shred every piece of paper or document that contains personal information. If these documents have value, it is best to store them in a safe place. However, in most cases, it is beneficial to shred all junk mail, past account statements, pay check stubs, personal mail, and cancelled checks. More importantly, shred any document that contains names or addresses. Consumers should shred any document they believe can be used to gain more sensitive data about them.
5. Enroll In Identity Theft Protection Services
Enrolling in a fraud protection is an ideal way of preventing identity theft. This service is perfect for consumers that are concerned about identity theft. This service offers protection from identity thieves and provides insurance to consumers. Equifax and Identity Guard both offer a quality identity protection service.
There are many ways to prevent identity theft. Methods include using cash when appropriate, not giving out phone numbers, and even locking up valuable documents. Identity theft can happen to anyone and the best way to prevent it is to be proactive. Creditnet offers some in-depth information regarding identity theft, credit repair, and credit cards.
For more information regarding identity theft, access Creditnet: http://www.creditnet.com/articles/identity-theft
Creditnet is an authority credit card comparison site that offers innovative comparison tools to help users find the best credit card for their needs. In addition, the Creditnet Credit Talk Forum is a community of over 100,000 members that discuss credit cards, credit, debt, and credit repair daily.
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