Identity theft is an invisible threat that many people don’t realize they are a victim of until it’s too late. As identity theft can impact auto loan applications, we thought it would be a good idea to highlight the risks and how to prevent identity theft.
Lenders are well aware of the risks and costs of identity theft and will work with you to remedy any losses. However, prevention is always better than cure, which is what this post is all about.
Our team has this information to offer.
How Does Identity Theft Happen?
Identity theft happens in a couple of ways, digital and physical. Here are some common ways it can happen.
Phishing: Involves fake emails pretending to be from the bank or credit card company. They will often include links and urgent messages such as ‘act fast your account password has been lost’ or ‘there is unauthorized activity on your account and we need to verify your identity’.
The easiest way to avoid this is to never click links in emails even if they look legit. If you think the email could be real, call the bank or company using their published customer service number. If it’s real, they will verify it.
Hacking and Malware: Device hacking and malware are not as common as the media would have you believe but they are a threat. Devices using open WiFi can fall prey to man in the middle attacks and malware can be installed on any device to log keystrokes, collect personal data and report it back.
You can avoid all this by using a software firewall on every device, using antivirus and a malware scanner and running weekly scans. If you use public WiFi in coffee shops and airports, always use a VPN to encrypt your traffic.
This type of dumpster diving collects your old bank statements, official documents and any other identifiable information you throw in the trash. They can be used along with other forms of fake or stolen ID to apply for credit cards, loans, set up bank accounts, secure phone contracts and even car rentals.
To avoid this, shred or burn all identifiable documents. That way, there is nothing for the thief to use against you.
Physical theft can include purse snatching, home invasion or ATM skimming. Each is serious and can have far-reaching consequences other than identity theft. ATM skimming is common in cities and can steal your card details and your PIN number at the same time.
To prevent identity theft in this way, be aware of where you are all the time and protect yourself and your property. To avoid ATM skimming, check any ATM you use for small cameras pointing at the keyboard and anything that looks out of place over the card slot. Keep an eye out for people loitering who look out of place too.
Oversharing is Not Caring
Oversharing is not only a faux pas but can actually be dangerous. People can say they are anyone online and you never truly know who you’re talking to.
Don’t avoid interacting online, just be aware of who you’re talking to and that they ay not actually be who they say they are.
Make friends, be sociable and enjoy the internet. Just keep identifiable information to yourself as much as possible.
Learn to Love Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication, 2FA, is when you have to add an SMS code or use an authenticator app as well as your username and password. While they are an extra step to log into an account, they are also a very effective protection.
Even if a scammer steals your username and password, without access to your phone or authenticator, they won’t be able to access your account.
We recommend using 2FA on every account that supports it.
Monitor your credit report
You can check your credit report once per year, per credit bureau for free and we recommend doing it. Get them at TransUnion or Equifax. Some financial products and credit card protection services offer free credit which you can also use.
If you don’t check your report, often the first sign of identity theft will be a demand letter from a creditor. Monitor your report and you could spot it earlier.
If you do see anything suspicious, report it to the credit bureau and ask them to put a freeze on your account while you investigate. This will stop any further credit applications in your name and prevent identity theft from happening.
Hopefully you now now a little more about how to prevent identity theft. Pay attention to all the above and you minimize the risks of identity theft considerably. There’s no such thing as complete protection but this is as good as it gets right now!
For those of you who know that you have a challenging credit situation, please visit Dixie Auto Loans where we have a team of credit specialists ready to help you get approved for a car loan today!