12:36 PM

Cybersecurity Awareness Month: Six tips to help consumers take charge of protecting their identity

Columbus, OH - As hackers and cybercriminals develop new ways to steal sensitive online information and wreak havoc on a person’s financial and personal life, it’s more important than ever to take proactive steps to protect your identity.

October is National Cybersecurity Awareness month, and Nationwide is encouraging consumers to protect their identity in the age of cyber threats during retail transactions, social media, healthcare and other vulnerable situations.

Consumers should be mindful of their personal information and where it is stored. And, consumers are increasingly using some form of credit or payment card to make everyday purchases. In fact, according to creditcards.com 2017 survey of consumer payment methods, only 12 percent of participants indicated a preference for using cash to purchase goods. That leaves a wealth of information about a purchase in a business owner’s database where sophisticated hackers could gain access to it.

To help protect consumers’ identities, Nationwide offers consumers the following tips:

1. Take only what you need. Leave extra credit cards and your Social Security card in a secure place at home. It’s not necessary to carry all your credit cards with you when you shop - just take the ones you need for that trip.2. Make ATM transactions in secure locations. When using an ATM, make sure no one is looking over your shoulder to see your PIN, and always take your receipt. Sometimes it has vital information that criminals could use to access your bank account.3. Make sure your digital payment methods include consumer protection precautions. Use a credit card, not a debit card, when shopping online. Most credit cards protect you from having to pay for fraudulent purchases, whereas debit cards generally do not. Only shop with companies you trust or have done business with in the past. Make sure they are using a secure server to store your information.4. Sign your credit card. Always sign the back of your credit cards or write, "Ask for photo ID."5. Protect your identity in advance. Make sure you have identity theft insurance coverage and the ability to monitor your personal information online.6. Options to consider if you become a victim. Consider freezing your credit information with at least the big three consumer reporting agencies – Transunion, Equifax and Experian. Recent changes to federal law make it easier and remove all fees for freezing and unfreezing credit reports.

For more tips and information about how to protect your identity, click here.

Source: Nationwide

According to the most recent statistics from U.S. Department of Justice, there were 17.6 million victims of identity theft in 2014.

“As our lives become more increasingly digitized, the threat of identity theft continues to grow,” said Mendi Riddle, Nationwide’s vice president of personal lines products.

As the number one writer of ID theft insurance protection, Nationwide continues to develop innovative solutions for its members to provide a modified and improved version of the Identity Protection Portal (IPP). This enhanced offering can proactively monitor members’ identity, notify them if their information is being improperly used and adds credit score and monitoring services. Nationwide’s IPP combines human intelligence with leading-edge cybertechnology to proactively monitor members’ identities across a spectrum of vulnerable scenarios over the vast expanse of the web.

Some of the items monitored by the Nationwide product include credit-card numbers, social-security numbers and even loyalty-card information. IPP also will provide a library of useful information to educate members about protecting their identity and includes comprehensive restoration services.

About Nationwide

Nationwide, a Fortune 100 company based in Columbus, Ohio, is one of the largest and strongest diversified insurance and financial services organizations in the United States. Nationwide is rated A+ by both A.M. Best and Standard & Poor’s. An industry leader in driving customer-focused innovation, Nationwide provides a full range of insurance and financial services products including auto, business, homeowners, farm and life insurance; public and private sector retirement plans, annuities and mutual funds; excess & surplus, specialty and surety; pet, motorcycle and boat insurance. For more information, visit www.nationwide.com. Follow us on Facebook and Twitter.