You’ve worked hard for the things you have under your name – it’s more than a sinking feeling to find out that someone has stolen your belongings, finances, and identity. It can be a real pain to try and sort it all out once it happens. It’s best to try and take preventative measures so that you’re not a victim of identity theft. Here are some tips on how to avoid identity theft.

identity theft

What is Identity Theft?

When someone deliberately uses another’s identification, that person is committing identity theft. This information might be a name, a driver’s license number, social security number, a fingerprint, a PIN, a passport, a health card identification, a bank account, an electronic signature, a credit card, or debit card number.

The High Cost of Identity Theft 

If you fell victim to identity theft, you’re not alone. Last year, forty-nine million Americans experienced identity theft according to the 2021 Identity Fraud Study by Javelin Strategy & Research. The cost to consumers was $56 billion—for one year!

It’s not just about cleaning out your bank account. With your identity, the thief can make regular bank withdrawals, apply for credit cards, get a loan, buy a car, a house, or a plane ticket.

Writer Asaf Griener paints a frightening scenario. We won’t go into detail here but it is worth taking a look at.

How Technology Helps the Thief

In a NewScientist article “Cyber Crime Made Easy”, the author explains the level to which hackers are making adept use of malicious software. You can purchase an app for credit card theft.

Just as high-tech makes it easy to steal a car, points out CBC’s Sarah Bridge, so too, there is an alarming array of gadgets for identity theft. Ed Oswald describes some of these.

Skimmers

Identity thieves capture data on your debit cards by skimming. A data storage device could be attached to an ATM. They could also be attached to credit card readers. While the transaction is going through a digital copy of your credit card information is being made.

How Can You Combat Skimming?

Never let your credit or debit card out of your sight. Be cautious if a machine looks unusual.  Use cards with an EMV chip if possible.  Cover the pad when you enter your PIN and always monitor your transactions on your app or statements.

Laptops

Some identity thieves simply drive around looking for unsecured hotspots with their laptop.  Then they log into your wireless network looking for vulnerabilities.

How Can You Combat the Laptop Thief?

Make sure your computer’s firewall is up and running. Never leave your home wireless network unsecured. Choose a Wi-Fi password that is hard to crack. Enable all security features on the router.

Your Old Gadgets

How we treat old, broken gadgets is important. Those old gadgets may not work but they contain data. Often before they are discarded, data is not wiped, identity thieves can gather personal information.

How to Combat Identity Theft from Old Gadgets

Be careful what you store there—like passwords and PINs. Keep sensitive information off these devices. Before you discard them, wipe clean every device before you trade it in or sell it. The New York Times offers this easy way to clean data from your device.

Internet Connection

If thieves have one of your credit card numbers, it is easy for them to conceal their actions. All it requires to change a system is a name, address, and a credit card. Once an address is changed, they can open credit cards and other fraudulent accounts in your name. And you probably won’t even realize it until months later!

How Can You Stop Internet Theft?

Use your credit cards wisely. If you lose one, shut it off immediately. Restart it when you know it is safe.  Some banks offer a freeze/unfreeze option for your card. If you aren’t sure if you’ve lost it but want to keep your funds protected, this is a great option! Then you don’t have to worry about cancelling your card and waiting for the bank to reissue your new one.

Lost, Stolen, and Compromised Cards

Identity theft is far from rare. Fraud is a global problem that continues to grow. The Insurance Information Institute claims that in 2020, losses from identity theft cases topped $712.4 billion dollars. Which is a 42 percent increase from 2019. In 2020, the second highest reported identity fraud came from credit cards and opening new accounts. By 2021, losses are forecasted to increase to $721.3 billion dollars. It continues to climb annually.

stolen identity

Common Mistakes of Online Banking

We’re lulled into a sense of security because online banking seems so private and safe. Our naiveté blunders can make us easy victims of fraud and identity theft.

  • Never assume everything is okay.

Check credit card activity and your bank accounts often. Monitor the activity on your accounts. Inform your financial institution if there are any suspicious transactions immediately.

  • Don’t use predictable and/or unchanging passwords.

I know. It’s easier to keep a password forever. It’s tempting to choose one that makes sense and is easy to recall. Don’t be one of those people who use the same password for several cards!

Make it hard for thieves. Change your passwords often. One banking institution recommends changing your password after every transaction!

Write down new passwords and store them in a safe place—not your smartphone or your computer.

  • Guard your smartphone at all times.

Sadly, our lives are stored in our smartphones. Over fifty percent are used for online banking. How can you cut the odds of theft? Use only official banking apps.

  • Don’t decline security features.

Without security alerts to your phone or email, identity thieves can use your information undetected 75% longer. Look for free apps. Some banks even provide information when the account falls below a specific limit.

  • Don’t avoid online banking.

Your financial institution spends millions bolstering online security and keeping firewalls strong. It would be a shame if you avoided the convenience of online banking simply because it might be risky.

Customized security is tailored to your needs and desires.  New features are coming out as technology improves them.

how to avoid identity theft

Why Choose Marygold & Co.?

Marygold & Company has over two decades of experience in financial services. Recently launched, the Marygold & Co. Mastercard Debit Card and mobile app gives customers safe FDIC-insured accounts with a custom security dashboard that allows users to take more control of their finances.

Marygold & Co. has created a new card and app where you can control the use of your card with just a toggle. With the Marygold & Co. app, you can even control where your card is used.

With Marygold & Co’s user-friendly, customized security, you can freeze and unfreeze your account or type of transaction like international with the touch of your mobile phone..

We all have those heart-stopping moments when our card goes missing. Whether it was lost, stolen, or misplaced, canceling is time-consuming and inconvenient. You have to contact businesses to stop recurring payments tied to that card. You have to wait to receive a new one.

With Marygold & Co.’s customized security, you need only use your secure app to freeze  your card. If it turns up, you merely unfreeze it!