While the increase in likelihood of identity theft varied from life event to life event, all carried a significant increase in the likelihood of it taking place compared to the average person not experiencing such an event. For example, those newly married were eight times more likely to have identity theft take place than the average person. For new parents, the increased likelihood was five times more. Those with a new home or who began dating again saw their chance of ID theft increase by as much as three times.
As Hilary Schneider, the president of LifeLock notes, “Life milestones in this day and age are often accompanied by significant sharing of personal data. Whether you’re getting married or buying a new home, you’re filling out many different forms both digitally and on paper — and you may have very little control over where your highly personal information goes. Our research shows that people can take a few simple steps during these moments of time that may help reduce the risk of identity theft.”
There seems to be a number of factors which increase the likelihood of identity theft for these groups according to the research. There simply is so much data collected on a variety of devices these days which puts people at a greater risk of having their personal information compromised. It’s those life milestones where a lot of personal and financial data is shared compared to regular daily life which causes the problem. The sensitive information is being shared during these times, and as it is shared there is a greater risk that ID theft can occur.
If you find yourself going through a life milestone, you need to be more wary of your personal information, but there are simple steps you can take to protect yourself from ID theft. These include:
- Setting up fraud alerts with all three of the major credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax).
- Have your name and address removed from pre-approved credit card offers.
- Request your free credit report from each of the credit bureaus and set up a monitoring cycle.
- Keep all your important records secure, such as in a locked file drawer or safe.
- Shred all documents being thrown away with a cross-cut shredder.
- Consider placing a credit freeze with the credit bureaus.
- Do not let your credit or debit cards to be taken out of your sight.
- Be careful to inspect all slots where you must insert a credit card to make sure they haven’t been altered to steal your card’s information.
- Take precautions to protect your PIN.
- Understand and avoid being a victim of phishing or phone scams.
- Consider getting an unlisted phone number.
- Don’t give out your social security number unless necessary. Always ask why it’s needed.
- Don’t carry your social security number in your purse or wallet.
- Take steps to protect your computer and all your online accounts.
- Frequently monitor your online accounts for suspicious activity.
- Monitor your mail.
- Keep all personal information away from areas where others can see it.
(Photo courtesy of loloieg)