How to protect yourself from data theft

How to protect yourself from data theft

’Tis the Season for Data Theft

2016 was a winning year for data thieves. Identity theft reached record numbers. According to USA Today, about 1 in 16 Americans was a victim of identity theft. Were you a part of that statistic? 

Businesses and financial institutions, and even tax filing platforms like TaxSlayer, are committed to safeguarding your information. By using encryption, authentication, chip-based card transactions, and complying with tighter laws and regulations, responsible companies are doing their part to protect consumers like you. 

But are you doing your part? 

Even with 24/7 monitoring, there are no guarantees, and data thieves will continue to find ways to invade our digital lives.  

Here are 5 basic ways to keep your data safe: 

  1. Lock down your personal data. Whether you shop online or in the store, your credit card, bank account, and Social Security numbers are vulnerable. Avoid carrying your Social Security card in your wallet, and don’t exchange personal information on an unsecured WiFi network. 


→ Do you create unique passwords that combine symbols, numbers, and upper- and lower-case letters?  


  1. Learn to identify data thieves and scammers who reach out by email, phone, or text. Trust your gut when a call or message looks suspicious, and do some research. Also, know the habits of the companies with whom you do business. Get familiar with their preferred methods of contact.  


→ Do you avoid clicking on links in emails from unknown senders? 


  1. Have a plan in case of a breach. If you’ve ever lost your wallet, you’ve probably notified your bank or credit card company, who may have put a freeze on your account. In turn, banks will notify you if they see any suspicious purchases on your account.  


→ Do you have a monitoring and restoration service working on your behalf? 

→ Do you re-set your passwords when your accounts have been compromised? 


If you answered no, SecurelyID might be the perfect solution for you. Besides credit monitoring and full-service restoration, SecurelyID offers internet surveillance, reimbursement of up to one million dollars, sex offender alerts, and lost wallet service, to name just a few of its features. 


  1. Know about the W-2 scam. Thieves are interested in employee data, too, so it’s not uncommon for them to target you at work. But employers are getting better about reminding their employees to report calls and emails that phish for information and employees are more vigilant when it comes to distinguishing a scam email from a legitimate one. 


→ Does your employer warn you about scam emails? 

→ Do you know who to contact at work when you receive a suspicious email or phone call? 


  1. Understand that businesses are targets, too. Because thieves also steal employer identification numbers, the IRS now has ways to confirm businesses’ tax return information, such as their filing and payment history.  


→ When you shop, do you choose businesses whose primary concern is protecting their consumers’ payment information? 

If you answered yes to the questions above, you’re on the right track! Protecting data is everyone’s responsibility: yours, your employer’s, and the companies and financial institutions with whom you share your private information.