Identity theft is one of the nation’s top consumer complaints, with almost 1.4 million reports of stolen identities in 2021, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
Thieves have several ways to steal your identity. They can overhear you reading out your credit card number on the phone, buy your information on the dark web or steal your information through a phishing or vishing attack.
To protect yourself from identity theft, follow these guidelines:
• Create unique passphrases for all your accounts and devices. A strong passphrase for your personal accounts should be 15 characters long and include letters, numbers and symbols. Change your passphrase if you suspect the account has been compromised.
• Never give out your personal information — especially on phone calls you didn’t initiate.
• Leave your Social Security, Medicare, debit and credit cards in a safe place at home. Only carry what you absolutely need in your wallet.
• Monitor your banking and credit card statements frequently, along with your credit reports and mail.
If you suspect you have fallen victim to identity theft, report it immediately to the Postal Inspection Service.