Millions of people are targets of identity theft scams every year. Sophisticated identity theft scams can be a nightmare, making it nearly impossible for victims to use their credit cards, get loans, rent homes, buy houses. In many cases, victims lose their entire life savings.
Although scammers can target anyone with a social security number with an identity theft scam, they mainly prefer children and seniors because they’re more vulnerable.
It’s essential to be proactive in identity protection — experts suggest that it can take anywhere from six months to years to resolve identity theft scams fully. Here are some tips that can help you shield the more vulnerable members of your family from such scams:
1. Educate Yourself and Your Family
It’s critical to educate yourself and your family on identity theft scams. To understand the process’s nuances, visit the website of a security expert like Security Picks for the latest security news, guides, and information. Here, not only will you absorb essential information on the signs of identity theft, but you’ll learn what to do in case it happens.
2. Freeze Credit Files
An excellent way to protect vulnerable members of your family from fraud is to put a freeze on their credit files. A credit freeze is free and especially useful for people who don’t plan to look at their credit files or open a new line of credit soon.
For example, children under the age of 18 and adults with sufficient retirement savings usually don’t need to apply for loans. In addition, it’s easy to unfreeze a credit file. All you need to do is contact the credit bureau and ask them to unfreeze the file with the PIN given when the account was locked. Of course, can always freeze it again later after the financial transaction is complete.
While the credit file is unlocked, keep a close eye on credit reports to stay one step ahead of cybercriminals. Remember, you don’t have to pay to monitor financial information. With the three major credit bureaus offering one free credit report a year, you can get an updated document every three months.
3. Pay Attention to Cybersecurity
Everyone in your household, regardless of age, should use secured devices to connect to the Internet. The latest antivirus software, a regularly updated operating system, and a firewall can secure devices from malicious software like spyware and keyloggers that steal confidential information used by cybercriminals to commit identity theft.
Likewise, everyone in your family should use sophisticated passwords with the assistance of a password manager and avoid over sharing information on social media. Hackers are known to social media pages for many months to piece together information for targeted scams like spear phishing.
With a senior citizen’s private information, scammers can target them with health insurance scams, investment scams, lottery scams, romance scams, and grandparent scams. Meanwhile, with a child’s personal information, a hacker can easily trick them into revealing more by pretending to be someone else on social media.
Although identity theft can be scary for any family, it’s possible to stay safe with the right security measures and education. Contact the authorities immediately if you need to recover from identity theft.