How to Prevent Identity Theft
In This Article
- What Is Personal Identity Theft?
- How Identity Thieves Steal Information
- Tips to Minimize Identity Theft Risk
- What Is Digital Identity Theft?
- Tips to Protect Yourself From Digital Identity Theft
- What To Do If You're a Victim of Identity Theft
- How LendingClub Can Help
Personal identity theft is is when someone else uses your personal information, like your credit card number, identification number, and name to carry out fraudulent transactions without your permission. The fraudulent collection and use of your private personal and/or financial information, usually for profit at your expense, is a crime.
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 Risk Based Security, data breaches in 2020 exceeded 37 billion—a 141% increase from 2019 As more and more sensitive information is shared online, these numbers are only expected to rise.
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;
- Getting a hold of your mobile device;
- Looking through your trash and curbside recycling for recent financial documents;
- 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.
When it comes to protecting yourself from identity theft and fraudulent activity, 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. When it comes to identity theft protection, 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.
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.
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).
- 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:
If you have any questions, concerns, or if you believe you are a victim of identity theft, email us or call Member Support at 888-596-3157.
Still have questions? Some of these commonly asked questions may provide the answer.
1. How can you prevent identity theft?
You can prevent identity theft online by keeping all of your devices up to date with the latest security software, monitoring your credit scores and credit reports, only using trusted websites when shopping online, and always maintaining strong passwords.
2. What are the warning signs of identity theft?
Fraudulent charges on your credit cards or bank account statements are one of the biggest indicators of identity theft. You may also experience irregularities with your online accounts—like new users being added without your knowledge or receiving emails informing you of reset passwords.
3. What’s the first thing I should do if my identity has been stolen?
The first thing to do is alert all the companies where fraud occurred. This can mean calling your bank or credit card provider, or reaching out to the website where your password was changed. Ask them to close or temporarily freeze your account, and then change all your logins, passwords, or PINs.
Then, place a free, one-year fraud alert on your credit report by contracting one of the three credit bureaus—Equifax, Experian, or Transunion. You only need to contact one credit bureau—they’ll notify the others on your behalf. This alert will prevent the identity thief from opening up any more accounts in your name.