To highlight the importance of managing and securing digital identities, the Identity Defined Security Alliance (IDSA) and the National Cybersecurity Alliance have partnered to sponsor April 13 as national Identity Management Day.

Identity theft, when someone obtains another person’s personal information and uses it for fraudulent or illicit purposes, is an important topic often discussed in this newsletter and for good reason. The statics of identity theft are startling. Recall the February newsletter where it was reported the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) saw nearly 1.4 million cases of identity theft reported in 2020 — almost double the cases reported in 2019 with the increase in cases being linked to last year’s health pandemic outbreak.

Furthermore, according to research conducted by the IDSA, more than 79 percent of organizations have experienced an identity-related security breach in the last two years. Of those surveyed, 99% believe those identity-related breaches were preventable.

With these disturbing statistics, there is no doubt the importance of this day and the need for continued discussions regarding identity theft. On April 13, set aside some time to review steps to protect your identity. Listed below are steps to get you started.

Helpful Steps to Prevent Identity Theft

There is no sure-fire way to prevent identity theft. However, helpful tips include:

  • Keep your personal information close and never share your Social Security number or passwords.
  • Create strong, complex passwords and initiate two-factor authentication when possible.
  • Limit personal information shared on social media. This can be accomplished by reviewing Privacy Settings.
  • Freeze your credit.
  • Regularly check credit reports.
  • Carefully discard financial statements and junk mail by shredding.
  • Use a digital wallet when online shopping.
  • Review all statements, accounts, credit card balances and medical “explanation of benefits” to ensure there are no fraudulent charges.
  • Use devices that are up-to-date, with secure connections and anti-malware, anti-virus software installed. Install regular updates and patches.
  • Never open, respond or click links in suspicious or unsolicited emails.
  • Be suspicious of unsolicited phone calls and never share personal information. Due to spoofing, err on the side of caution and if in doubt initiate a callback with a trusted number.
  • Never save credit card information on an account.
  • If traveling, contact the post office to hold your mail.
  • As always use common sense; if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.

Don’t ignore the warning signs. If you think your identity has been compromised, report it at the FTCs site: https://www.identitytheft.gov/. This site allows you to not only report what has happened but helps you create a personal recovery plan and put it into action.