Indeed, Lipton is hardly alone. The Federal Trade Commission notes that identity theft has increased dramatically over the last few years. According to the National Council on Identity Theft Protection, nearly a third of all Americans have experienced attempted identity theft. Experts expect that number to grow even more this year.
October is Cybersecurity Awareness Month, an opportune time to learn about the potential pitfalls related to identity theft and to take protective measures.
Here are seven tips for minimizing the risk of identity theft.
1. Sign up for ProtectMyID Essential, the Experian identity theft protection service available free to all AAA members (AAA.com/IDtheft).
2. Never give out personal information to any incoming callers or via email, regardless of how legitimate, threatening or urgent the caller or email seems. Contact the person or company by way of an independent phone number (not the one provided by the caller or email) to ask if there is a problem.
3. Never click on links in emails or text messages unless you were expecting the communication and are 100 percent sure it is safe.
4. Shred mail and other documents with bank account numbers, social security numbers or any other personally identifiable information.
5. Closely monitor your bank account and your credit report for any unusual activity.
6. Enable two-factor authentication on devices or accounts when given the option to do so. This provides an extra layer of security.
7. Consider freezing your credit, thus preventing anyone from opening an account or credit card in your name. It is free to unfreeze your credit should you need
to open an account yourself.
“There may be no surefire way to protect against identity theft,” Lipton says, “but given my personal experience, the time or effort invested in prevention seems well worth it.”