Be Vigilant During Identity Theft Awareness & Prevention Month
You and your company may or may not take time to celebrate the season by decorating, hosting a party, or helping the less fortunate. Whether you mark the season or not, December also brings attention to the ever-present threat of identity theft, which increases during the holidays. This is why December was chosen as Identity Theft Awareness and Prevention Month. Now is as good a time as any to learn how to protect yourself from thieves and fraudsters looking to steal your personal information.
Do Credit Checks
A credit report can help protect your credit history from mistakes, errors, and signs of identity theft. To remain in control of your finances, request your free credit reports (free every week from now until December 2023) and check for incorrect, missing, or fraudulent activity.
By itself, a single piece of personal information may not be enough to steal your identity, but together they can leave you vulnerable. The more vigilant you are about protecting your personal information, the lower your chances of identity theft are. Thieves are always looking for an opportunity to get a hold of your name and address, credit card or bank account numbers, Social Security Number, or medical insurance account number so they can:
- Use your credit card
- Open a credit account in your name and run up debt
- Open a phone or utility account in your name
- Steal your tax refund
- Use your health insurance
- Use your identity if they are arrested
If you adopt a “shred everything” philosophy in your work and personal life, you can minimize the likelihood of confidential or personal information being accidently thrown into the garbage or recycling bin. A NAID AAA Certified, local shredding company can shred your documents beyond reconstruction. Whether you have a large or small shredding project, a responsible shredding company will also recycle 100% of your shredding material.
Avoid Online Scams
There are many ways scammers will try to steal your information. Whether via phone, email, social media, or on the web, here are some ways to protect yourself from:
- “Phishing” emails are created to appear as if they’ve been sent from a legitimate organization or individual, but try to fool the receiver into clicking a link embedded in the body of the email. Once clicked, the link will open a bogus website that may download malware, log your keystrokes, or ask you to share sensitive personal information under the guise of official business. If you can’t confirm who the sender is, if they are making an unusual request, or the email is out of character, play it safe and check with that person directly (do not respond to the email itself) to confirm they sent it. Also, by hovering over links with your mouse, your email application will show a preview of the URL so you can look before clicking.
- “Pharming” happens when you type a legitimate URL into the address bar but a virus on your computer redirects you to a fake site. It might look real, but cybercriminals will collect your personally identifiable information (PII) when you complete web form.
- Only use secure websites with the URL prefix “https”. These website have proven their compliance with website security protocols and are safer to use than those with just “http.”
- Use strong passwords on social, financial and all other accounts and change them frequently and anytime you detect suspicious activity. Passwords that incorporate letters, numbers, and special characters are difficult for cybercriminals to guess or decipher. Use multi-factor authentication (MFA) whenever it is available.
- Use a local, NAID AAA Certified shredding company for electronics recycling. Identity thieves target all electronics because they know that most will contain private information that they can steal and use or sell to other thieves.
Richards & Richards is Nashville’s oldest NAID AAA Certified shredding company. We securely shred and recycle documents, hard drives, electronics and products for businesses and residents, and recycling is important to us. For more information, give us a call at 615-242-9600 or complete the form on this page and our friendly shredding experts will be happy to answer all your questions.