Identity theft is a growing concern in this technologically driven world. With all the convenience of banking, investing, and working online, it can also lead to serious worries about identity theft and fraud. While it is great to have all of your information contained on your phone and at your fingertips, it also means identity security is incredibly important.
Worried about identity fraud? You should be because it’s often now not individuals targeting a specific person but software or teams sending out attacks en masse. You might be caught up in that digital net without even being a specific target. Solution? Be skeptical and stop trusting everything you read or encounter online. Well, there’s more to it than that, so here are 6 easy tips to follow to help protect yourself from online Identity theft and fraud.
1. Use Strong Passwords on your Online Accounts
While this tip may seem obvious to many, weak passwords are still a leading cause of the hacking of information online. It is important to make sure your passwords are as strong as they can be. Avoid using personal information in your passwords, such as your name or birthdate. This information is very easy to access, and if your password contains information that can be readily accessible, it just makes a hacker’s job easy.
To ensure your passwords are as strong as they can be, use numbers and information that is not openly accessible. By utilizing a combination of capital letters, special characters, and numbers other than birth dates, you are taking the first step to ensuring your accounts are well secured, leading to less chance of theft and/or account hacking.
2. Review your Credit Profile Regularly
It is incredibly important to have a good grasp of your credit profile information, directly through official credit monitoring agencies. It is important to monitor your credit regularly, to ensure no new credit accounts have been opened in your name. Accessing your credit profile every quarter can ensure that possible fraudulent accounts are found early, avoiding untold damages to your credit history and profile.
Many credit reporting agencies will have special security options that will immediately inform you if new accounts have been opened in your name. Monitoring your credit, and signing up for these account alerts can be helpful, and give you peace of mind knowing that your credit profile is being monitored for possible fraudulent activity.
3. Know your Creditors, Especially On The Phone
It is very important to know who is contacting you regarding your personal information and accounts. Ensuring that you know who you are dealing with before providing any personal information can keep you well protected from identity thieves. Never provide your personal information unless you know you are dealing directly with your bank, financial institution, or credit agency.
You can easily ensure that you are speaking with trusted officials in multiple ways. If you receive any emails that look like they have come from your bank, it is important not to respond to them without first confirming their authenticity. This can easily be done with a phone call to the bank, confirming any requests you have received in your email are accurate and authentic. A quick phone call to your legitimate institution allows you to be in control. Ask your branch if they have sent you the email, inform them of what is being requested, and try to clear up any confusion you may have before providing any information in response to an email.
If any email you receive does not come from your bank, they will inform you immediately and you can red flag and mark it as spam, so further requests that are false no longer come through to you. By reporting spam emails to your bank, you can also help to protect those around you, as your bank will now know there is a scam happening and be able to take proper security measures. Never reply to an email with personal information unless you are 100% sure of the origin of the information request.
4. Regularly Review Banking and Credit Card Statements
Online purchases make life so easy, however, if you are not properly reviewing you can miss out on seeing charges to your account that aren’t yours. Identity fraud does not necessarily mean stealing your information or opening full accounts under your name. It can be as simple as someone getting a hold of your credit cards and charging things to your account.
A monthly review of your credit card statements can ensure no one has been using your cards for their purchases, and this can be an easy and effective way of identifying fraud quickly if it should happen. The faster you find these purchases, the easier it is to report them to your credit card company.
5. Never Dispose of Statements without Destroying them First
Your bank and credit card statements contain a lot of personal information and it is important to shred or otherwise destroy them before you throw them into the recycle or trash. Once these statements leave your possession you never know where they could end up. Ripping them up or completely shredding them before they hit the bin can be an incredibly easy way to ensure no one is getting their hands on your private information.
6. Never Share your PIN Number With Anyone
While you may feel like you can trust certain individuals with your banking or credit card pin, it is never a good idea to allow someone else access to your Personal Identification Number. No matter how trustworthy you feel your friends may be, sharing your PIN is a no-no.
If you need someone to purchase for you, just send them the money or provide them with cash. Protecting your PIN is incredibly important, and it doesn’t mean you don’t trust your friends, it just means that you are taking extra steps to protect yourself. Sharing is caring, but not when it comes to your PIN!
If you are concerned about identity fraud or theft, that doesn’t mean you have to stay disconnected. You can still access all of your information online and live in the world of technological convenience while maintaining security and having peace of mind that your information is secure. I’ve listed a number of basic rules you can follow to protect your identity that are simple and easy. Take the time to be safe online and with your physical information and you’ll read about identity fraud in the news, rather than be a victim yourself.