How to Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft

Tips to keep your data and identity safe.

How to Minimize Your Risk of Identity Theft

While there’s no guarantee that you will not experience identity theft, there are things you can do to minimize your risk of becoming a victim.

Don’t share your personal information If you get a call, email, or document in the mail that seems suspicious, thoroughly review it before responding.

Click wisely. If you get a suspicious email or one that asks for an unusual action, don’t click it. Avoid viruses, malware, or phishing scams by hovering your mouse cursor over the URL address to see where the link will take you. If you do click on the link and it turns out to be fraudulent, let the legitimate company know so they can warn other consumers.

Create strong passwords. Your passwords are your first-line of defense against identity theft. To make your passwords hard to crack, create long and complex passwords. Also, don’t duplicate passwords across sites because if one gets stolen, fraudsters will have access to multiple accounts. To make password management easier, consider a service. With a password manager, you only have to remember a single master key to access your account instead of multiple logins across different sites.

Take advantage of two-factor authentication. Two-factor authentication adds an extra layer of protection to your online accounts. Most websites and apps offer two-factor authentication. To activate it, once you sign in to your account, you receive a one-time code on your mobile phone or computer. Once you get it, you enter the code to verify your identity and get access to your account.

Only sign on to secure Wi-Fi. Sites practicing safe Wi-Fi habits can help keep your identity secure in public spaces. Fraudsters often set up free Wi-Fi networks and use them to steal information joiners. Use trusted secure Wi-Fi when away from your home or work network.

Six Signs of Identity Theft


Your household bills have stopped showing up in your mailbox.

If you stop receiving billing statements, this could signal that your personal information has been compromised because an identity thief has changed your billing address.


Your credit or loan application gets denied.

If you’re turned down for credit even though you’ve established a strong credit history, you might have become a victim of an identity thief. Being approved for a loan or credit at a higher interest rate can also be a sign that you’ve been hit by identity theft.


You receive statements for purchases you didn’t make.

Being billed for late payments for accounts you don’t have, or getting notifications about purchases you don’t recognize is a sign you’ve been victimized by identity fraud.


Fraudulent transactions appear on your financial accounts.

If your bank, credit union, credit card, or other financial account show unauthorized transactions, those accounts could be compromised.


Your tax return is declined.

If you file your returns and receive a rejection notice from the IRS, it could indicate that a return has been fraudulently submitted using your name and personal information.


Small charges appear on your credit card statement.

It’s usual practice for thieves to “test” a stolen card by making low-cost purchases, typically under $5.00. If the transaction goes through, it paves the way for the fraudster to make larger purchases.