We often think of identity theft as a consistent threat that requires constant vigilance. While it’s true that people should always be monitoring their credit for potential breaches, there are certain times in every person’s life where they are statistically far more likely to become victims of identity theft. This is when people should properly utilize credit monitoring services.
For instance, studies show that newlyweds, home buyers and new parents face some of the highest risks of identity theft. These are the people who really need to be aware of the warning signs.
Newlyweds are roughly eight times more likely to become victims of identity theft than those in the general population. This is largely because of all the financial and personal information changes that they tend to undergo following the wedding. Newlyweds often change their names, change their addresses and, most crucially, change their tax filing status and adjust their withholdings and benefits. This requires a significant amount of paperwork and the use of online services, which open people up to security vulnerabilities. When newlyweds revisit their health insurance status, they are 64 percent more likely to use an online health care management service, which increases their risk of medical fraud in particular.
Home buyers are about three times as likely to experience identity theft when compared to the general population. This is partly because of paperwork, but also because of the number of strangers who enter the home during the buying process. Realtors, home inspectors, plumbers, electricians and other maintenance workers will spend a lot of time working on a home during a sale, and home buyers need to be careful to keep any confidential information away from prying eyes.
New parents are about five times more likely than the general population to have their identities stolen. Much of these incidents occur as a result of a breach of their heath insurance medical information. Parents spend a great deal of time in and out of medical facilities in the months leading up to and immediately after giving birth, and that leads to a lot of personal information in the system that could potentially be compromised.
How can people undergoing major life changes reduce their risk of identity theft? The first step is to avoid risky behavior online. When using any kind of web-based account to store personal information, it is important to use strong passwords and turn on two-step verification wherever it is supported. This will make it more difficult for identity thieves to use brute force methods to break into sensitive accounts.
Prevention can only accomplish so much, of course, which is why it is important to use a credit monitoring service. This allows people to manage their risk by keeping an eye out for some of the broader financial impacts of ID theft . Such a service will alert you if certain activity that may be indicative of fraud has appeared on your credit file. From there, affected individuals can take the steps necessary to prevent fraud from harming their finances.