76% of Americans are concerned about sharing their personal information online, according to our Q1 2022 Consumer Pulse survey. And it’s with good reason — that same survey found that 38% of all Americans have been targeted by or become victims of digital fraud schemes in the last three months. It’s smart to be cautious when online and sharing information, but you don’t need to be on edge.
Here are some simple tips to help you keep your data identity protected and prevent identity theft:
Reading and understanding your credit report information is important in the fight against ID theft. Depending on the number of accounts you have and your credit activity, your credit report can be updated frequently. Be on the lookout for any accounts or information that look unusual. If you’re unsure about an account or creditor name, contact the creditor directly for details.
Some creditor information on your report may not match what you’re expecting. For example, if you have a card through a store, the partner bank may be the name you see on your report, which can cause some initial confusion.
If you’re confident the account is not yours, you can dispute it with TransUnion. You’ll need to dispute the information with each credit reporting agency (TransUnion, Equifax and Experian) separately if it’s found on all three of your credit reports.
Fraud alerts and credit freezes are two free ways to add a layer of protection to your credit report. With a credit freeze, lenders won’t be able to check your credit report to open a new account. A fraud alert is similar, but instead of freezing lenders out completely, it alerts lenders to take extra steps to verify your identity before extending credit. This can be a good option if you’re concerned about identity theft and are actively shopping for a new loan.
It’s tempting to share passwords across platforms or reuse old ones for new websites. Keeping track of different, complex passwords can feel like a pain. But what’s even more of a pain is trying to recover a compromised account and any associated data or assets. Create strong, unique passwords for each account. Password managers can help you keep track of the necessarily complex passwords or passphrases.
Make careful considerations before you give out your personal information. It can seem harmless to give a company your name, birthday and email for access to special offers or discounts, but think about what your personal information is worth to you. While most companies are good stewards of information, data breaches can happen.
You’ll also want to watch out for links in your emails or text messages that feel off or unexpected, even if it seems like they’re coming from a reputable company. Misspelled words, generic greetings and a sense of urgency are some of the hallmarks of phishing attempts. This is a popular scam to try to get you to share valuable personal information.
It’s unnerving when someone invades your personal privacy. As more transactions and communication happens digitally, be proactive about keeping your data identity safe. If you’d like more resources about fraud and identity theft, head to our Fraud Victims Resources page. There you’ll find our downloadable Fraud Companion Guide, which provides steps to identify and recover from various forms of identity theft.