Javelin Strategy & Research recommends that consumers follow a three-step approach to minimize their risk and impact of identity fraud.
- Keep personal data private - At home, at work and on your mobile devices, secure your personal and financial records in a locked storage device or behind a password. Of those consumers who knew how the crimes were committed, nine percent of all identity fraud crimes were committed by someone previously known to the victim in 2011.
Avoid mailing checks to pay bills or to deposit funds in your banking account. Use online bill payment on a secure Internet access (not a public Wi-Fi hotspot) instead and direct deposit payroll checks.
- Be social, be responsible - While social networks are popular, be careful about publicly exposing personal information that is typically used for authentication (full birthdate, high school name). This applies to all social networks.
- Use mobile devices responsibly - Mobile devices are a treasure trove of information for fraudsters. The "always on" functionality of mobile devices provides fraudsters with new avenues for securing information. Be sure of the applications you download, the data you share over public Wi-Fi and where you leave your devices.
- Ask questions - Before providing any information on mobile phones, social media sites and transactions sites, question who is asking for the information? Why do they need it? How is the information being used? If volunteering information, ask yourself if you have more to gain or more to lose by sharing personal and unnecessary details.
- Take control - In 2011, 43 percent of fraud was first detected by the victims. By monitoring accounts online at bank and credit card websites, and setting up alerts that can be sent via e-mail and to a mobile device, consumers can more quickly detect if they are a victim of identity fraud and stop it early.
- Learn about methods to protect your identity - There is a wide array of services available to consumers who want extra protection and peace of mind. These include credit monitoring, fraud alerts, credit freezes and database scanning.
Some services can be obtained for a fee and others at no cost. These services can detect potentially fraudulent information from credit reports, public records, and online activity that are difficult to track on your own.
- Report problems immediately - Work with your bank, credit union or protection services provider to take advantage of resolution services, loss protections and methods to secure your accounts.
A fast response can enhance the likelihood that losses are reduced, and law enforcement can pursue fraudsters so they experience consequences for their actions.
- Take any data breach notification seriously - If you receive a data breach notification, take it very seriously as you are at much higher risk according to the 2012 Identity Fraud Report: Social Media and Mobile Forming the New Fraud Frontier.
If you receive an offer from your financial institution or retailer for a free monitoring service after a breach, you should take advantage of the offer or closely monitor your accounts directly.