December is Officially Identity Theft Awareness & Prevention Month

A black gloved hand is reaching out through a laptop screen to grab a wallet sitting on the desk.December is designated as Identity Theft Awareness & Prevention Month. You might question why this month, of all times, should be dedicated to focusing on identity theft prevention. Amidst the hustle and bustle of increased sales, closing out both personal and company financials, and managing various events, December already feels overloaded. However, this frenetic activity is precisely why raising awareness and prevention measures during this period is crucial.

Vulnerability to Identity Theft

Identity thieves capitalize on the higher-volume and larger-scale transactions that occur during December. They’re aware that the attention of individuals and businesses are less focused on safeguarding identities due to the distractions of the season. The aim of this article isn’t to add stress during your final month of the year. Instead, it’s a reminder to remain vigilant so that December can be a season of enjoyment, not a time marred by criminal activities.

Facts about Identity Theft

Consider these alarming statistics from the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) for the first half of 2023:

  • There will be nearly 560,000 reported cases of identity theft by Americans, with an expected total surpassing one million complaints by year-end.
  • Additionally, the estimated total losses due to identity theft is a staggering $10.2 billion. Identity theft occurs at the astonishing rate of once every 22 seconds due to the wide range of methods employed.
  • Surprisingly, individuals aged 30-39 face the highest victimization rates, while seniors are among the least-affected groups.

Tips for Protecting Against Identity Theft

1. Don’t Assume You Won’t Be a Victim

Statistics reveal that around 33% of Americans have encountered at least one identity theft attempt in their lives. With the abundance of available data today, achieving complete safety has become very difficult. Increasing your awareness of potential fraud can significantly enhance protection. Understand that you, like everyone else, are a potential target.

2. Use a VPN While on Public WiFi

Employing a virtual private network (VPN) while browsing in public areas can shield you by creating an encrypted connection and masking your IP address. It’s a simple yet effective tool for online security.

3. Safeguard Your Passwords

Protecting your passwords is paramount. Avoid sharing them with others and change them regularly, especially if they are shared. Use unique, complex passwords for different sites and consider using a reliable password manager app to store them securely.

4. Enable 2-Factor Authentication

Whenever possible, opt for two-factor or multi-factor authentication to add an extra layer of security. This method requires a second verification step beyond your password, making it harder for unauthorized access.

5. Limit the Information You Share Publicly

Be cautious about what personal details you share on social media, as it can provide thieves with access to your identity. Avoid disclosing addresses, phone numbers, personal IDs, birthdates, or vacation plans.

6. Destroy Sensitive Information

Dispose of any documents containing personal information by shredding them thoroughly. Adopt a strict shred-all policy to prevent accidental exposure of sensitive data.

Identity Theft Protection Assistance

While a personal shredder may not provide foolproof protection, Richards & Richards offers secure shredding services that render documents impossible to reconstruct. Regardless of the volume, our shredding services cater to both commercial and residential needs. This month, leave the stress of protecting your information with us by calling 615-242-9600 or completing the form on this page.

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