What You Can Do to Protect Your Identity

phishing emails

In today’s digital age, it has become increasingly easy for criminals to assume the identity of others. With the help of software and illicit online platforms, they can gain access to personal information, such as usernames, passwords, and even complete identities for a relatively low cost.

To safeguard yourself and mitigate the impact of identity theft, here are some tips specifically for Alliance Direct Benefits members:

1) Get a Password Manager.

A lot of account break-ins happen because people use the same passwords all over the web. We all know we’re supposed to create strong passwords, change them often, and not use the same ones for every account. But who can keep track of all of that?

A password manager can. Password managers generate and store long, complicated, unique passwords for each website and app you use, and make them immediately accessible as needed. You only need to remember a main password to access the rest of your safely-stored passwords.

2) Double Down with Two-factor Authentication.

Two-factor authentication provides an additional layer of security to protect your accounts. Here’s how it works: when you enter your username and password on a merchant’s website, they will send a unique, one-time-use code to your cell phone via text message. This code is required to complete the login process, effectively blocking access to your account by potential criminals.

To further enhance your security, consider using an authenticator app. Instead of receiving the code through a text message, the code will only appear on the physical device where the app is installed. This adds an extra level of protection, as sophisticated criminals are unable to intercept the code through text messages.

By utilizing two-factor authentication and an authenticator app, you can significantly reduce the risk of unauthorized access to your accounts and protect your sensitive information.

3. Monitor your credit reports and credit score.

Thieves will set up new credit card accounts in your name, using a fake address. You never receive bills. You never know someone’s using your identity until unpaid bills and delinquency charges leave your credit score in ruins. You’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. Get yours now at AnnualCreditReport.com

4. Consider putting a freeze on your credit reports.

Before a thief can open an account in your name, creditors will check your credit report with one of the three major credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. A freeze means you have to unfreeze the report before anyone can access it, making it that much harder to open an account in your name. By federal law, there’s no charge to freeze your credit report, however you will have to contact each credit agency individually to implement or release the freeze.

5. Don’t give out vital data over the phone.

It is important to be cautious when receiving phone calls requesting sensitive information such as social security numbers, passwords, or PINs. Legitimate organizations typically do not ask for this information over the phone. If you receive a call that appears to be legitimate, ask the person for their full name and a number to call them back. Scammers will often hang up in response to this request. If they provide the information, take note of it and contact the organization directly through their official customer service channels to verify the legitimacy of the call. By following these steps, you can help protect yourself from potential scams and safeguard your personal information.

6. Be especially careful with emails and text messages.

Criminals are very crafty. They can make texts, emails and web sites look exactly like those of any company you may do business with. Do not reply directly to these emails or texts — as with phone calls, if you think the inquiry may be legitimate, contact the company through normal customer service channels.

7. Alert authorities if you are a victim of ID theft.

If you become the victim of identity theft, report it to the Federal Trade Commission immediately. Call 1-877-438-4338 or visit identitytheft.gov. They will help you put together an recovery plan, walk you through its steps, and track your progress.

8. Use ID Theft Resolution Services.

If you’re IDs have been stolen, or you think they could be compromised, a theft resolution service can be very valuable. They provide you with a personal fraud specialist. Someone to help you prepare notification letters, work with government agencies and creditors, and stop fraudulent bills and charges.

Even if you only suspect that you could become a victim — a lost wallet or purse, calls or letters about accounts you don’t have — these services can place fraud alerts on your credit reports. They can also help you replace lost, stolen or destroyed identity documents: social security cards, birth certificates, passports and driver’s licenses.

ID Theft Resolution Services are also included with your Alliance Direct Benefits. If you have questions about these services contact us today, or visit the Alliance Value Plan page for more information.