Some of life’s most significant moments are also among the times when you are at the greatest risk for identity theft.
That’s because during these times, you have to disclose personal information, according to LifeLock, which provides identity-theft protection services.
Life events that put you at higher risk for identity theft include:
- Buying or selling a home
- Getting married or divorced
- Becoming pregnant and having a child
- Losing a job or starting a new one
Such events increase your risk by anywhere from 50 percent (starting or losing a job) to almost 400 percent (selling a home), LifeLock research shows.
Paperwork filled out in association with these events might require your Social Security number, your date of birth or a copy of your driver’s license, all of which can be used to steal your identity.
LifeLock’s educational programs manager, Paige Hanson, tells Business Insider:
“A lot of people think that just because they’ve been asked for information, they have to provide it. Before automatically giving it away, ask why. A lot of times, they won’t have an answer. And maybe you’ll be encouraging them to change their security standards. …
People need to take active ownership in protecting themselves.”
According to the Internal Revenue Service, protecting yourself is especially important in terms of your Social Security number. The federal agency offers the same advice as LifeLock:
Be careful about sharing your number, even when you are asked for it; ONLY share your SSN when absolutely necessary.
To protect key personal identifiers such as your Social Security number, the IRS also recommends that you:
- Never carry around your Social Security number (or other documents with the number), and store it in a secure place.
- Protect documents with other personal identifiers.
- Protect your personal computers by using firewalls and antivirus software, updating security patches and changing passwords for Internet accounts.
- Check your credit report and Social Security Administration earnings statement annually.
What steps have you taken to protect yourself from identity theft? Share your thoughts in a comment below or on our Facebook page.
And to learn more, check out “Ask Stacy: Should I Pay for Identity Theft Protection and Credit Monitoring?” (which applies to identity theft protection services like LifeLock) and “2 Keys to Avoiding Medical Identity Theft.”