Identity theft is a major concern for consumers, even more so than the threat of being physically injured.
According to an April 2016 online Harris Poll survey on behalf of Feedzai, a company focused on analyzing big data and risks in the financial industry, it was found that out of the 2,100 adults surveyed, 18% (or very nearly 1 in 5) of Americans would rather break a bone than deal with identity theft.
Even more surprising, the survey also found that Americans would prefer other unpleasantries, such as being cheated on by their significant other (12%), eviction (9%), a long daily commute to work (35%) and a hangover (44%) over identity theft.
42 percent of all polled are most afraid of their social security number being stolen by a hacker, and 28 percent are fearful of their banking login information being compromised.
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
With such widespread concern regarding identity information, Drivers Lane has some suggestions on what you can do in order to keep your information safe.
- Keep personal documents in a safe place
Don't leave wallets and purses unattended in your vehicle or public places (including your workplace) - this could give an identity thief the opening they need to gather the information they need to engage in fraudulent activity. Also, any documents that you no longer need that have personal or financial information on them should be shredded before disposal.
- Routinely monitor your credit
If you spot anything questionable (such as incorrect addresses, accounts you did not open, credit inquiries by companies you did not do any kind of business with, etc.) on your credit report, do not hesitate to dispute the information with the major credit bureaus. They are, by law, required to investigate any and all inaccurate information or fraudulent activity you inform them of.
- Freeze your accounts
Known as a "credit freeze" or a "security freeze," consumers can use this tool to deny potential creditors/lenders access to their credit reports. With access to a consumer's credit report cut off, creditors will usually deny any applications for new accounts. This service usually costs around $30 (but may be free if you can provide documentation that you have been a victim of fraud, such as a police report), and is different from a credit card freeze, which many credit card issuers (such as Discover) offer, which will not allow anyone to make any purchases with that particular account until you lift the block.
- Update your passwords
We live in an age where just about anything can be done online, including shopping and banking. While major financial institutions and retail sites do everything possible to keep hackers at bay, it's wise to keep your passwords updated. By refreshing your passwords on a regular basis, you will reduce your chances of a thief getting ahold of your personal and financial information. Be sure your passwords are complex enough to stump ID thieves (using special characters, numbers, unusual phrases, etc.).
- Stay away from email phishing scams
Every so often you may receive an email that claims to be from your bank or other institution stating that there has been some kind of unauthorized activity on your account, and that you should use the links in the email in order to log in and fix, or check on, the problem. Reputable companies will never ask you to log in from a link in an email. Always go to the actual site of the business contacting you outside of the email (i.e., through links that you know are safe).
- Anti-virus and anti-spyware software is your friend
It is important for you to make sure all of your computerized devices are secure, including mobile devices. Keep your anti-virus and anti-spyware software up to date.
When you work with Drivers Lane, we use the most up-to-date systems and software available to keep your information safe.
Don't Break Your Back for Auto Loan Approval
Speaking of Drivers Lane, if you've had your credit damaged because of identity theft and cannot get approved for an auto loan through a bank, credit union, or a car dealership, we can help. We have a nationwide network of car dealers that specialize in helping car buyers with damaged credit get approved for auto financing. Complete our fast, free and secure online application, and we will connect you with a dealer in your local area. Don't let past mishaps stand in the way of you and the road, start today.