People constantly guard their identity closely, especially if the identity is connected to their finances. They are scared that if their identity falls into the wrong hands, like Social Security Number and credit card, the perpetrator will set up a fake account and launder thousands of dollars under your name. Unfortunately, it can take years to straighten up the mess created.
A survey conducted in July of 1,000 adults revealed that 77 percent of Americans feel nervous about their financial information being stolen, which is greater than 59% of Americans getting anxious about their home getting robbed. Nonetheless, these people would avoid changing their password for online financial accounts around 46% and using the same password for multiple accounts around 44%.
As per the managing director in a corporate investigations and dispute solutions practice, the average man should be very concerned because every time you click on a link. The chance of a con artist waiting for the opportunity to come by is high.
The risks of losing your bank account are far less than the real threat of you being a victim of identity theft. The con artists are not interested in your $5,000 or $20,000 savings, but much more valuable is your identity, as per the experts.
Here are some steps you can take to ensure that your identity remains safe with you.
Phishing emails: You can easily be fooled by an email from one of your financial institutions prompting you to reveal all your sensitive information. There would be a link requesting you to click and enter all the essential details. Thus the con artist now has all the information that can be used for nefarious purposes. If you ever receive such emails, always go to your browser and check the domain name. If it fails to match the real domain name, avoid the email and don’t entertain it.
Answering security questions on social media platforms: even though you may not indulge in security questions regarding the college you went to, the name of your pet, your mother’s maiden name, etc., these can easily be obtained from social media platforms like Facebook. Thus avoid posting such details on social media platforms.
Helping out with charity: Helping others in their time of need is expected from a good samaritan. However, avoid falling for online scams. For example, in 2011, when the tsunami hit Japan, a link for donating to Japan was on the google search in the number one position. Unfortunately, it was not authentic but a scam. Therefore, it is advisable to donate to organizations you are familiar with or do background research before donating.
Password change frequently: It is important to keep changing your password when you feel you’re a victim of phishing activity. The experts say that one shouldn’t use an old password for too long, instead; change it frequently, without repeating it. If you think you have been a victim of identity theft, use a new password. Most con artists will try to use your old password to break into your accounts. Using an encrypted password manager tool is quite useful.
Important cards should be left at home: Keeping your and your children’s Social Security Number card at home is advisable. It is also advisable to keep only one debit card or a credit card. Thus in case of robbery, you would only have to cancel one card, and the rest are at home- ready to use.
Password-protected phone: Your smartphone is loaded with information. It has your financial accounts, emails, etc., which can be used if stolen. For this matter, avoid setting your date of birth as a PIN. You might find it troublesome to add a password, but it will save you from a lot of unimaginable trouble if you were to lose your phone.
Monitor your bank account statements: It is good to monitor all your bank account statements to check for unauthorized entries. In case of identity theft, it will reflect on your bank account statement, and you can freeze the account quickly. Contact your bank and one of your credit rating agencies to freeze your account if you feel that it has been compromised.
Email addresses should be kept private: Using your email address as your username is unavoidable. However, you can restrict its usage across social media platforms. Try to keep your email address as private as possible to prevent identity theft.
Get a chip card: Apply for those credit cards and debit cards with embedded chips, making con artist’s life as difficult as possible. For every transaction, there is a different code used; thus, the con artists cannot duplicate your credit or debit card.
By the end of the year, 65% of all debit and credit cards will have this security feature, and by 2017 it will become a common feature. In addition, countries that have adopted this feature have seen a 70% to 80% drop in frauds.
Avoid checking financial accounts on a public network: As per the survey, it was revealed that 39% of Americans used the public network to check their financial data. Such a practice is dangerous as hacks are drastically increasing.
Teach your children to be Internet-smart: Children like to share their photos and details of their lives on the internet as they have grown up in an environment surrounded by the internet. It is a good habit for you to be internet-smart as the hacker might use this information on the net to hack into your family accounts or meet them in person, which can have terrible consequences.
Report the attack: In case you feel that your accounts have been compromised due to identity theft, it is in your best interest to contact the bank and financial institution and report it. Also, file a complaint with the FBI. The report could save another person from becoming a victim and put the perpetrators behind bars for good.