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Every year, millions of reports of identity theft are made in the United States. Assuming each report represents a single individual, that’s a considerably low rate, but don’t let statistic lull you into a vulnerable complacency.

Whether it’s credit card fraud (the most common), bank fraud, employment fraud, or other types of fraud, identity theft is not a joke. While statistically the risk is low of being affected by any form of identity theft, the consequences can be extremely severe. Being a victim can mean have your credit score severely disrupted or destroyed, along with your finances should someone get a hold of your banking information.

While you may feel powerless to get your life back on track when it happens, there are ways of combating identity theft before it ever even happens. Read on to learn about the five most important things you can do to protect your identity.

1. Diversify Your Passwords

While it may be convenient to have a go-to password for everything that you’ll always remember, this is a weak strategy for securing your identity online. When your password is the same or extremely similar between any and all accounts belonging to you online, just one breach is all it takes to give wrongdoers ammunition to break into other accounts where the most harm will be caused.

This means you should get into the habit of using different passwords for each account, especially those with sensitive information about you. This is especially true for your email account, which can give fraudsters a lot of insight about your personal life, such as what your social media accounts are, who you bank with, which payment apps you use, and more – along with information and access that can help them sneak into these accounts.

2. Create Complex Passwords

The passwords that are the hardest to crack are those that can’t be guessed from facts about your personal life. That means stay away from birthdays, anniversaries, family names, nicknames, pets’ names, the street you grew up on, etc. If it’s a fact about you or your life, consider it off-limits for password purposes – even if it’s easier for you to remember. After all, that’s what wrongdoers on the Internet are counting on you to do.

The key here is to be unpredictable and unconventional – that also means avoiding the likes of 12345,” “qwerty” or the infamous “password” as your password. You should, however, also stay away from using real words found in the dictionary, as these can be guessed by computer programs designed to crack passwords by trying different combinations of what is known or can be assumed about someone’s password.

To create a complex password, use a series of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters that together don’t make logical sense. Use at least eight characters, but the more you have, the harder your password will be to crack.

3. Don’t Share Your Personal Information – Ever

It goes without saying for most, but never give sensitive information out to anyone, especially if they’re contacting you by phone or email. The IRS, for example, will never call you to collect a payment, nor will it text you – and the same can be said for most credit card companies and banks.

If you doubt the validity of someone contacting you and requesting personal information, ask for their credentials, end the call, and then call the organization the caller said they were with by using a number listed on the organization’s official notice or website. By doing this, you can more safely verify whether or not a legitimate person from the organization was trying to reach you.

At the bare minimum, never reveal your Social Security Number, pin numbers associated with your bank or credit cards, or any information on your checks to someone over the phone or especially in an email.

4. Check Your Credit Report Regularly

You don’t have to wait for things to spiral out of control to do something about your stolen identity. By taking advantage of a service from a credit reporting agency that generates regular credit reports – often for free – you can stay on top your identity’s security and intervene as soon as you notice something’s wrong.

5. Purchase an Identity Theft Insurance Policy

Even the most careful of us can become victims of identity theft. Purchasing an identity theft insurance policy can help you mitigate the impact that a breach in your personal information’s security can have on your credit and financial life.

At Insurance Specialists, Inc., we can help you get a policy for $10 per month or $120 annually that can offer the following:

  • 24/7 assistance to help you with damage against your identity
  • Timely restoration by working with local authorities, government agencies, crediting agencies, and other entities that may need to know about your identity theft case
  • Fast relief to help you get back to normal as quickly as possible.

Learn more about identity theft insurance policies we can build for you by calling (888) 451-0883 or by filling out our online contact form.