As more of our personal and financial activities are digitized, the threat of information security is also becoming more and more real. Almost every other month, we hear news about hackers getting ahold of controversial information from corporate or government agencies. Perhaps you’ve had a close friend who’s been a victim of credit card fraud. Or maybe you’re one of the 145 million individuals affected by the Equifax breach.
Whether you’ve had first-hand experience of these or not, one thing is for sure: the need to secure your personal and financial information has never been this important.
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Identity theft is a real threat. In 2017, the Theft Resource Center has counted 1010 data breaches involving the records of 171 million consumers.
There are many forms of identity theft but the most common types can be classified into six categories:
- employment or tax-related fraud
- credit card fraud
- phone or utilities fraud
- bank fraud
- loan or lease fraud; and
- government documents or benefits fraud
The most seemingly innocent information which you might have for granted your whole life can cause a whole world of disasters. Your birthdate, address, and social security numbers alone can easily be used to loot your bank account empty or sign you up to services you’d never want to have anything to do with in the first place.
Fortunately, there are steps that you can take to mitigate such lethal possibilities.
Consistently check your account statements
Not that you’d have to manually log into your account every other four hours. Be religious in checking your account statements from time to time and look for any errors, inconsistencies, or other suspicious activities. Immediately report them to the proper authorities if you spot one.
If your bank has an app that helps you monitor your transactions, that would tremendously help.
Avoid Public WiFi for sensitive financial transactions
Public wifi is feasting ground for hackers who want to intercept sensitive information from any device user who connects to the network. Never transact within a public network. Make sure you use a secure web connection (HTTPS instead of HTTP), and clear the cache when you’re done.
Don’t share sensitive information via email
You can only be too careful online. Any determined or skillful hacker can penetrate your network, intercept your email, and steal sensitive information. Sometimes, it really does pay to be a little bit paranoid.
If you need to pass on some sensitive personal or financial information, do it in a safer way and never through email. Check out these secure ways to transmit files from TechRadar.
Beware of phishing
Phishing is a common real estate scam where hackers pretend to be representatives from reputable companies. They send their targets emails presenting a certain dilemma that could coax them into revealing their personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
This is one of the reasons why you should not click on links in emails (unless your dead sure it’s from a secure source) or transact online.
Only use strong passcodes
If somebody’s trying to break into your account, having a strong gate key would certainly be a headache. A strong password typically has ten characters, composed of letters both lowercase and uppercase, along with a mix of numbers and symbols.
Yet, aside from generating your impenetrable pass key, see to it that you don’t lose it later. It’s fairly common among users to have to have problems with lost accounts due to lost passwords. Either you write them down manually, keep them in a notepad on your phone without an indication of your email id, or use any secure strategy you can come up with.
And most importantly, never share your password, even with your significant other.
Check your credit report
You should consistently check upon your credit record, whether you’re planning to get financing soon or not. This is to ensure that no hocus pocus is happening within one of your credit accounts.
Consumers are entitled by law to receive a free credit report from the credit reporting agencies every year. See to it that you check your record for any inconsistencies. If you find any, dispute them and report to the appropriate authorities.
Consider using a fraud alert or freeze for your credit accounts
A great way to add an extra layer of security for your accounts is to use a fraud alert or freeze to your accounts. Alerts are usually free while you can add auto freezes for a fee.
Identity theft is a terrible crime that can cause you not only thousands worth of dollars but also your reputation. Be sure you don’t end being one of its victims (again).Click to See the Latest Mortgage Rates»