Frauds & Scams

10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information

August 19, 2021 • By

Reading Time: 2 Minutes

Last Updated: November 2, 2023

man clicking on an image of a lockFraudsters don’t go on vacation—so it’s necessary for you and your loved ones to stay vigilant year round. Identity theft affects millions of people each year and can cause serious financial and identity-related issues. Protect yourself by securing your personal information, understanding the threat of identity theft, and exercising caution. We have a list of 10 things you can start doing now to protect yourself and your loved ones.

  1. Don’t believe calls, emails, texts, or any message that say you need to immediately pay to resolve a problem, such as legal trouble with the government or a virus on your computer, or even to collect a prize, like lottery or sweepstakes winnings. Legitimate businesses will not force you to make a payment over the phone as the only option, and will not require payment by prepaid debit card, gift card, Internet currency, or by mailing cash.
  1. Protect your Social Security number by keeping your card in a safe place at home. Don’t carry it around with you or provide your number unnecessarily.
  1. Be careful when you speak with unknown callers. Scammers may use legitimate phone numbers or the real names of officials to mislead you. If they threaten you or make you feel scared, hang up.
  1. Never give out your personal or financial information in response to an unsolicited call or message. And don’t post it on social media.
  1. Shred paper that contains personal information, such as your name, birth date, and Social Security number.
  1. Regularly check your financial accounts for suspicious transactions.
  1. Request and check a free credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year: TransUnion, Equifax, and Experian.
  1. Install and maintain strong anti-virus software on all your devices—including your smartphone, personal computer, and tablet. Don’t fall for tech support scams, including pop-up warnings. If you need help fixing a problem on your computer, take it to someone you know and trust.
  1. Create strong passwords so others can’t easily access your accounts. Use different passwords for different accounts so if a hacker compromises one account, they can’t access other accounts. Check out the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) password checklist for tips.
  1. Never click on a link sent in an unsolicited email or text message—type in the web address yourself. Only provide information on secure websites.

Stay smart. Stop scams.

We encourage you to create your own personal my Social Security account to track your earnings record. Contact Social Security if you find suspicious work activity on your record–you could be a victim of identity theft. You can find more information and report identity theft to the FTC on their Identity Theft website. Please share this information with your family and friends—and post it on social media.

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About the Author

Darlynda Bogle, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications

Darlynda Bogle, Acting Deputy Commissioner for Communications


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  3. David W.

    This is very timely and much appreciated.

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  5. Car P.

    You won’t realize the value of your privacy until you see your personal details up for sale in the dark web. This article will help you to protect your privacy online.

  6. Arwel O.

    Thanks Darlynda – good notes and tips. I wanted to add some fraud-related points from scientific point of view.

    The case with callers and scammers, messages, links, prizes, viruses etc. are called social engineering. It simply means that nobody or nothing makes you push the button, follow link from message, say your card number on a call and so on. You are the main cause of your fraud, cause you trust to fishing resources.

    The probem is that people are not trained enough to think critically and analyze what is going on when prizes, problems with relatives, finances are the key topic.

    Another double-edged sword is security of personal and corporate information. I am a security manager at small construction firm in Delaware and since I am innitiative enough we have our paper workflow digitalized. It means that all paperwork following the construction process from early stage planning to final quality review is online. And storage of these online documents is sec question number 1. That’s why we have employed for integration of our workflows with cloud storage services.

  7. Nagaraj S.

    When it comes to medical emergencies, personal loans are the biggest savior for their instant approval and disbursal features. An Aadhar card provides a universal identity to every citizen and reduces the number of documentation required to avail of a loan. Getting personal loans on aadhar card is extremely easy and straightforward.

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  9. Alex M.

    Thanks for the advice, I believe that technologies are developing, and with them criminals are getting smarter. The Internet of Things is becoming a part of the everyday world, which means that there are crooks who use its weaknesses. For example, sellers of personal data. I want to say that some companies take care of this, for example, the engineering company provides various engineering services, including the protection of user data.
    Information protection of data is like a signaling in the world of technology. She warns if someone with malicious intent wants to use information about you. Selling personal data has become a lucrative business today. There are even specialized web markets on the darknet: Dream, Point, and Wall Street Market. The main product here is “logins”. For example, PayPal authentication will cost around $ 250. And research conducted by information security experts Metric Labs has shown that all the personal data of the average American can be bought for $ 1,170.

  10. Hospitals &.

    On the topic of identity theft it seems important to reiterate the proposal to enable low income beneficiary income growth to outpace average annual consumer price inflation by settling the agreed upon high, 4.5 percent to 6.5 percent 2022 Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA), after inadequate 1.3 percent COLA in 2021, at the stable and affordable rate of 3 percent annually every year that inflation continues to run between 2 percent and 3 percent, as it has since 1980 pursuant to Sec. 215(i) of the Social Security Act 42USC415(i).

    A guaranteed 3 percent COLA is needed to set precedence for Congress to legislate an automatic 3 percent annual increase in federal minimum wage starting with ‘$10 an hour beginning on October 1, 2021 and 3 percent more every year thereafter that consumer price inflation continues to run between 2 percent and 3 percent as it has since 1980.’ pursuant to amendment of Fair Labor Standards Act at 29USC§206(a)(1)(D).

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