During an increasingly digital age, with more personal information being shared online, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling Inc. provides consumers with advice on avoiding identity theft.
January 14, 2015
Amidst a digital age and the digitization of information, identity theft is the fastest growing crime in America. Recent studies show that every minute, 19 identities are stolen. As of late, the technological world has proven to be in a state of vulnerability, placing millions at risk of becoming victims of identity theft. Headlines have shown data breach after data breach taking place at major retailers. And as seen in the case of Sony Pictures, no matter how large the corporation is, or how much security is applied to personal information, with today’s breaches, everyone is at risk.
To help consumers prevent theft from occurring, national nonprofit American Consumer Credit Counseling has released assistance for consumers on how to preemptively protect themselves from identity theft.
“We live in an age filled with wireless scanners, social media, online gaming, and cell phones that connect to virtually anything. This technological digitization has led to identity theft becoming a national threat,” stated Steve Trumble, president of CEO of American Consumer Credit Counseling. “At a time in which so much of what we do online, whether that be banking, shopping, or communicating with friends and family, consists of giving out personal information, we have to take every step we can to protect that information.”
According to a recent American Consumer Credit Counseling survey, sixty-four percent of American consumers no longer trust retailers with their financial information, and the Identity Theft Resource Center reports the total number of breaches tracked from 2012 to 2013 have dramatically increased by 30 percent.
In order to make sure you’re not affected by one of these breaches, ACCC has provided some tips for protecting your identity online.
- Be elusive on social media. Try to exclude specific, important information from your social media profiles. Minimize details in your “about me” sections, and leave out phone numbers or addresses. This information is prime knowledge for hackers. Also, be sure to set all your privacy settings to create a secure profile.
- Strengthen your online passwords. While it’s easier to remember passwords with our birthdays or hometowns in them, try to make your password a little more complex. Use punctuation and different capitalization. Also, veer away from using one password for all your accounts, if one is hacked, all your information across accounts can be compromised.
- Be wary with your email address. While shopping online, or creating required accounts, use a new email address. Creating an email address for yourself is an easy task, and it’s best to have a specific one for online activity. Use a primary email address for personal information; use your secondary one for shopping, newsgroups, or social networking sites. Make sure to only give your primary email address to people you know.
- Be aware. Look for suspicious red flags when you’re on websites or signing up for mailing lists. Make sure your online purchases come from companies with secure payment pages and privacy policies. You can check web addresses: if there is an ‘s’ located after the ‘http’ (https://), the website is secure. If not, don’t use it. Never respond to emails asking for account information or passwords. If a “bank” is asking for this information electronically, make sure to call the bank directly.
- Monitor what you’ve shared. Identity thieves gain access to personal information by piecing together information over multiple websites. Make sure to think about what information you have where online.
For more information on Identity Theft please visit the Education section of ACCC’s website: https://www.consumercredit.com/debt-resources-tools/identity-theft/
ACCC is a 501(c)3 organization, that provides free credit counseling, bankruptcy counseling, and housing counseling to consumers nationwide in need of financial literacy education and money management. For more information, contact ACCC:
- For credit counseling, call 800-769-3571
- For bankruptcy counseling. call 866-826-6924
- For housing counseling, call 866-826-7180
- Or visit us online at ConsumerCredit.com
About American Consumer Credit Counseling
American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) is a nonprofit credit counseling 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to empowering consumers to achieve financial management and debt relief through education, credit counseling, and debt management solutions. In order to help consumers reach their goal of debt relief, ACCC provides a range of free consumer personal finance resources on a variety of topics including budgeting, credit and debt management, student loans, homeownership, identity theft, senior living and retirement. Consumers can use ACCC’s worksheets, videos, calculators, and blog articles to make the best possible decisions regarding their financial future. ACCC holds an A+ rating with the Better Business Bureau and is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies. For more information or to access free financial education resources, log on to ConsumerCredit.com or visit TalkingCentsBlog.com.