Login Identity Protection Build Credit Pricing Employers Support Schools Parents PTAs PTOs and Education Foundations  Superintendents, Business Officers, and School Boards Resources About Us Contact Us Education Center Press Releases In the News FAQ
Resources > Education Center > Ways To Protect Your Identity—A Guide to Keeping Personal Information Safe

Ways To Protect Your Identity—A Guide to Keeping Personal Information Safe

The alarming trend of identity theft is becoming more prevalent in today’s digital age. With the advancement of technology, sophisticated methods for stealing personal information have continued to emerge.

As a result, over 40 million people in the United States were victims of this insidious crime in 2022 alone, racking up billions of dollars in losses. But how can you protect your identity? This comprehensive guide aims to equip you with the tools, strategies, and best practices necessary to fortify your defenses against identity theft.

Six Most Common Types of Identity Theft

Identity theft is an ever-growing issue that can cause financial, personal, and legal issues. To protect yourself better, it’s important to be aware of the different types of identity theft. Here are the six most common ones:

  1. Financial identity theft
  2. Tax identity theft
  3. Criminal identity theft
  4. Medical identity theft
  5. Child identity theft
  6. Synthetic identity fraud

Financial Identity Theft

Financial identity theft is a serious crime in which criminals access confidential financial information, such as banking, credit, and debit card details. The stolen data can then be used to make fraudulent purchases or gain access to accounts. To avoid this, consumers must remain vigilant with their details online and check bank statements regularly for suspicious activity.

Tax Identity Theft

This type of fraud occurs when someone steals your Social Security number (SSN) or other personal information to file tax returns and claim refunds. Unfortunately, restoring your finances can take a lot of time and effort if you’re a victim of this crime because it’s difficult to prove you’re not responsible. However, you can protect yourself from falling victim to tax identity theft by taking simple actions such as regularly monitoring your financial accounts.

Criminal Identity Theft

Criminal identity theft is when someone pretends to be another person. This can cause serious disruption and financial loss, as the thief often takes out loans or obtains services using false information. Fortunately, there are ways to detect this type of crime, such as monitoring account statements and actively searching your name on public records databases.

Medical Identity Theft

Medical identity theft occurs when malicious individuals gain access to private medical information and misuse it for their own gain. This puts individuals at risk of financial loss, stolen healthcare services, blackmail, defamation, or other damages. To protect yourself from medical ID theft, it’s important to guard your private health information closely and be alert to any signs that someone else has accessed it.

Child Identity Theft

Carrying devastating consequences for children, child identity theft is a serious crime in which someone steals a child’s personal information, such as their SSN, birth date, or name. Identity thieves can use this information to open new credit accounts, take out loans, or even commit medical fraud in the child’s name—this can damage the child’s credit report and make it difficult for them to obtain credit or loans in the future.

Fortunately, parents can take steps to protect their children from identity theft, such as being careful about who they give their child’s personal information to and monitoring their child’s credit reports.

Synthetic Identity Fraud

Synthetic identity fraud is a highly complex issue, as criminals use stolen data to create an entirely fake persona. It’s difficult to detect because criminals take pieces of stolen identities, combine them with realistic but false information, and then open up fake accounts. Synthetic identity criminals often seek credit card services in their victims’ names or set up loan operations that run off the radar for months before getting caught. In most cases, victims are unaware of the crime being committed until it’s too late and can face considerable financial losses when the crime is discovered.

How To Protect Yourself From Online Identity Theft

Online scams are the most prevalent way for thieves to acquire personal information due to the widespread use of the internet today. In 2022, the FBI received over 800,000 complaints of internet crime in the U.S., resulting in losses exceeding $10 billion. Protecting your identity is a task that can greatly reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim of cybercrime. Here are five essential tips to help safeguard your personal information from online identity theft

  1. Create strong online passwords
  2. Keep financial information private
  3. Beware of email scams
  4. Check credit reports regularly
  5. Freeze your credit

Create Strong Online Passwords

Creating strong passwords is one of the most effective ways to prevent identity theft online. Here are some ways to create passwords that will keep your data safe:

  • Using a combination of letters, numbers, and symbols when creating passwords
  • Not recycling passwords across multiple sites
  • Avoiding using obvious words or phrases such as “password” or birthdays that may easily be guessed by hackers
  • Changing passwords often and not sharing them with anyone

Keep Financial Information Private

Since your banking details, credit card numbers, or passwords can be used for malicious purposes, it’s important to avoid sharing them with anyone—even those you trust. When shopping online, use secure payment gateways that ask for multi-factor authentication like one-time passwords and employ encryption technologies to protect the transaction information. Additionally, avoid using public Wi-Fi networks without a VPN, as it could expose any sensitive information you send or receive.

Beware of Email Scams

Email scams are clever attempts to get access to your personal information. To protect your identity, be alert and suspicious of any emails sent from unexpected sources. Don’t open attachments or click on links unless you’re sure they’re secure.

Check for typos or unusual language, as well as inconsistencies in the sender’s name, which may indicate a spoofed email. Most importantly, never give out your personal information via email if you’re not sure of the source.

Check Credit Reports Regularly

Monitoring your credit report can help you find out if someone has stolen your info and used it to engage in unauthorized financial activities or open fraudulent accounts in your name. Checking this at least once a year is key for spotting suspicious activity early and keeping identity criminals away. 

Additionally, you can set up alerts so that you’re notified immediately if there’s any change in your accounts, such as a late payment or a new account opened in your name.

Freeze Your Credit

In case someone has managed to steal your info online, you can freeze your credit to prevent identity criminals from opening accounts using your information, which can help defend against identity theft. All you need to do is contact the three major consumer credit bureaus—Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax—to request a freeze on your files.

Ultimately, protecting personal identity is no longer an option—it’s a necessity if you want to avoid the crippling repercussions that come with being a victim of identity theft.

Top Products and Services for Enhanced Identity Security

Modern technology has made online ID security more important than ever. To ensure that your identity is safe, here are some products designed to protect it:

  • Biometric verification software—This technology uses fingerprints, retinal scans, and other biometrics to verify a person’s identity
  • Password managers—Securely stores usernames, passwords, and other sensitive data so you can keep track of them more easily
  • Anti-phishing software—Filters email for malicious links and blocks access to dangerous websites that could contain ID theft schemes
  • Encrypted messaging apps—Help you send private messages using military-grade encryption, ensuring your conversations are secure from outside parties
  • Firewalls/VPNs—Provide an extra layer of online security by creating a secure connection between your computer and the internet, keeping hackers out while protecting your IP address from being tracked or monitored
  • Identity theft monitoring services—An identity theft protection service like FreeKick can help monitor your credit reports and other sensitive information for signs of identity theft, helping protect you and your family from fraud

Protect Your Family’s Identities With FreeKick

If you want to ensure ongoing protection of your child’s sensitive information as well as your own, a dedicated identity monitoring solution may be ideal for your family.

Developed by Austin Capital Bank, FreeKick provides a combination of identity protection and credit-building services to help protect your family from identity theft and teach your child financial responsibility.

FreeKick’s ID Monitoring Services (Coming Soon)

FreeKick’s comprehensive set of services that monitor, protect, and restore the identities of your family members is available for up to two parents and six children aged 0 to 25.

Identity protection services for parents and adult children include:

  • Credit profile monitoring
  • Social Security number monitoring
  • Dark Web monitoring for personal information
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration 
  • Lost wallet protection
  • Court records monitoring
  • Change of address monitoring
  • Non-Credit (Payday) loan monitoring
  • Free FICO® Score monthly
  • FICO® Score factors
  • Experian credit report monthly

For minor children, FreeKick offers the following services to protect their identity:

  • Credit profile monitoring 
  • Social Security number monitoring 
  • Dark Web monitoring for child’s personal information 
  • Up to $1 million identity theft insurance 
  • Full-service white-glove concierge credit restoration 
  • Sex offender monitoring—based on sponsor parent’s address

FreeKick’s Parent-Sponsored Credit Building (Coming Soon)

In addition to providing an innovative solution for protecting your family’s personally identifiable information, FreeKick also establishes and builds a credit profile for children aged 14 to 25. Here’s how to get started setting a strong foundation for your child’s financial future with FreeKick:

  1. Create an Account—Sign up at FreeKick.bank by selecting a suitable plan. Add your deposit amount and choose Activate Credit Building in the account dashboard
  2. Set it and Forget It—FreeKick creates a 12-month credit history for your child through a zero-interest credit-builder loan that’s paid back using the deposited funds
  3. Keep Growing—After the 12-month term ends, you can opt to renew or close the account and receive a full refund of the original deposit amount made

Unlike other similar services, FreeKick doesn’t require a monthly subscription. Instead, you can choose your preferred plan based on your wanted deposit amount and pay a small annual fee that suits your budget:

DepositAnnual Fee
$3,000$0 (Free)

FreeKick deposits are FDIC-insured up to $250,000.Safeguard the identities of your family members while improving your child’s creditworthiness—open a FreeKick account.