Are You Doing Enough to Avoid Identity Theft?

Are You Doing Enough to Avoid Identity Theft?

January 8, 2018         Written By Bill Hardekopf

There are over 15 million identity theft victims in the United States annually, and that number has progressively increased over the last few years. A new study from McAfee shows 61% of Americans are “more concerned about cybersecurity than they were five years ago,” but are they taking the steps necessary to fix the problem?

Most survey respondents made some attempt to protect themselves from identity theft: 67% check their credit card and bank accounts frequently for unauthorized transactions, 43% check their social media accounts for posts they did not make, and 37% use credit monitoring services. Those actions are mostly reactive, not proactive.

Here are some tips to prevent identity theft from happening altogether:

  • Limit the number of people who have access to your financial accounts.
  • Use unique passwords for mobile banking, online money management tools, emails and social media accounts. If you are given a default password when you sign up for an account, change it right away.
  • Teach your children how to safely use the Internet, and check their devices frequently to look for inappropriate activity (talking to a stranger online, visiting unapproved websites, etc.).
  • Turn on fraud protection services for your credit card or debit card, if necessary. Most card issuers have fraud prevention solutions in place automatically, but some offer additional protection as an opt-in service.
  • Research products and merchants before making a purchase, and only work with businesses you know you can trust.
  • Do not click on email links from addresses you do not recognize. If you need to check your account, go directly to the website rather than following a link in any email. The email could be from a phishing site trying to steal your login data.
  • Change your passwords every few months, especially after a threat to your account (data breach, lost card, etc.).

You may also enroll in identity theft protection to further protect your personal data. This service will not prevent identity theft per se, but it will alert you as soon as there is suspicious activity on your financial accounts or credit history. By taking action right away, you can avoid long-term repercussions of identity theft.

The information contained within this article was accurate as of January 8, 2018. For up-to-date
information on any of the terms, cards or offers mentioned above, visit the issuer's website.


About Bill Hardekopf

Bill Hardekopf is the CEO of and covers the credit card industry from all perspectives. Bill has been involved with personal finance for over 15 years. He is a frequent contributor to Forbes, The Street and The Christian Science Monitor.
View all posts by Bill Hardekopf
Featured Low Interest Card
Top Features : 1.25X miles on every purchase; no annual fee; bonus of 20,000 miles once $1,000 is spent in first 3 months
Featured No Annual Fee Card
Top Features : Earn cash back twice. 1% when you buy plus 1% as you pay; 0% APR for 18 months on balance transfers
Featured Bad Credit Card
Top Features : No Annual Fee; Cash Back match at the end of your first year; Social Security Alerts
Featured Fair Credit Card
Top Features : No annual fee; access to higher credit line after making first 5 monthly payments on time
Featured Limited/No Credit
Top Features : No annual fee; reports to major credit bureaus; access to higher credit line after making first 5 monthly payments on time
Featured Cash Back Card
Top Features : No Annual Fee, Bonus Offer, Cash Back