How to Prevent Identity Theft
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the fraudulent collection and use of your private personal and/or financial information, usually for profit at your expense.
Once identity thieves have your data, they will attempt to apply for credit, make purchases, or get services under your name. Airline tickets, hotel costs, and expensive merchandise may be charged to your existing credit cards. A new loan or line of credit could be opened in your name (without you knowing). Or your tax refund could be stolen right from under your nose.
According to Experian, data breaches increased by 44%, exposing 14.2 million credit card records and 158 million social security numbers in 2017 alone. Unfortunately, these numbers are only expected to rise.
How do identity thieves steal your information?
Identity thieves, or cybercriminals, can get their hands on your private personal and financial information in a variety of ways. Some of the most common methods include:
- Stealing your wallet;
- Looking through your trash and curbside recycling;
- Hacking into company databases that store your personal, health, and financial information; or
- Tricking you into revealing your information over the telephone, in person, or online.
Simple tips to minimize you risk of personal identity theft
When it comes to protecting yourself from identity theft, you can never be too careful. Think ahead about how that bank statement you just tossed, or the information you give to suspicious callers could expose and put you at risk in ways you may not be able to anticipate. Always remember to:
- Shred ATM receipts, credit statements, credit cards, and bank statements before throwing them away.
- Never give your credit card number over the telephone, unless you made the call and you’re certain you're dealing with a legitimate company.
- Don’t provide any private or personal information to random callers, and learn how to spot tricks scammers use.
- Review your bank account and credit card statements monthly. Notify your bank or credit card company of any unauthorized transactions.
- Review a copy of your credit report at least once each year. Alert the credit bureau in writing of any questionable transactions, making sure to follow-up until they are removed.
- Keep a list of telephone numbers to call to report the loss or theft of your wallet.
- Freeze your credit to prevent fraudsters from opening accounts
- Sign up for a credit monitoring service that will alert you about suspicious transactions.
For more information, visit the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), a government organization in charge of protecting American consumers against identity theft.
What is digital identity theft?
Buying goods and managing your finances online has become easier and more convenient than ever before. At the same time, identity thieves are getting smarter and bolder, and, sadly, data breaches are becoming a common occurrence. In the past few years, the credit bureau Equifax, credit card company Capital One, and LifeLock, a service intended to protect consumer data from identity theft, were all targeted by hackers.
Simple tips to protect yourself from digital identity theft
Safeguarding your information against online threats is more important than ever. Exercise caution with these simple tips:
- Use a password on your smartphone and laptop. If you misplace the device, or it’s stolen, a thief can’t use it to steal your identity.
- Think carefully about what you post on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and other social media apps. For example, if you’ve posted your first pet’s name to Facebook, don't use “What’s your first pet’s name?” as the secret question for your online credit card account.
- Secure your online accounts with strong passwords. Experts say a lengthy phrase (rather than a random set of numbers, letters, and characters is better, and easier to remember. Also, password keeper apps for your phone and computer can help you generate passwords that are hard to crack.
- Use two-step authentication where possible. Two-step authentication provides an additional layer of protection beyond your username and password. With two-step authentication, a website requires you to enter a personal identification number (PIN), verify your login attempt from another device, or provide a code it sends you by text or email.
> Pro Tip: LendingClub offers two-step authentication to help protect against fraudulent use of your account with us. If you’ve activated two-step authentication, we’ll email you a code you must enter after login before you can gain access to your member account. To activate two-step authentication on your LendingClub account: Login to your member account, select Settings, and opt-in for two-step authentication (found under your name and address).
What to do if you are a victim of identity theft
- Add a fraud alert to your credit report. A fraud alert prevents the identity thief from opening up any more accounts. As soon as you make the report to one credit bureau, that bureau is required to notify all the others on your behalf. You can contact the three major credit bureaus here:
Protect yourself against identity theft. LendingClub can help.
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you believe identity theft has impacted your LendingClub account, email or call Member Support immediately at 888-596-3157.