We do more online and on the go than ever before thanks to convenient technology. It’s extremely easy to use online or mobile banking services to share our information using laptops, tablets, and especially smartphones. With this convenience comes a responsibility to protect yourself from ID theft which can cause credit problems.
Security Threats & Securing Your Accounts
Threats to your identity can use advanced deception like fake web pages or malicious links in email messages. Plus, there are still traditional dangers like phishing scam phone calls or info being stolen from wallets and discarded mail. Here is a list of preventative measures you can take to protect yourself from becoming a victim of ID theft.
ID Theft Prevention Tips:
- Use strong passwords.– Be sure that all your computers, tablets, and mobile devices require a password or a pin to access them. Use a different password for each of your online accounts. Google suggests that passwords be at least 8 characters long, not contain personal information or names, and include upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Avoid suspicious websites and links – Be careful when you click any hyperlinks. Emails and websites can be made to look like they belong to your bank or other legitimate organizations. If you notice any inconsistencies, do not click links and do not input your username or password on unfamiliar login screens. To know for certain if a request from an organization is genuine, proceed by accessing their official web page. By typing a reliable web address and navigating through their site menu you eliminate the risk having an account breach.
- Do not give out personal information – Much like the suspicious websites mentioned above, many identity thieves will attempt to pose as a bank or credit card company employee over the phone. No legitimate organization will call you and solicit personal details such as a PIN number or social security number. If you suspect a call is authentic, get the caller’s credentials, hang up, and call the phone number listed on bank statements or on the credit card.
- Shred physical documents – Thanks to online and mobile banking options, it can be easy to forget that your private information still travels through physical mail. Be sure to shred account statements, bills, and other correspondence that may contain sensitive personal information before throwing it out. It’s very common for consumers to need debt assistance due to throwing out credit card application mailers.
- Monitor your accounts and your credit report.– Keeping an eye out for suspicious activity on all of your accounts is the best possible protection. Additionally, be sure to pull your credit report at least once a year to ensure that no fraudulent accounts have been opened in your name. You can do this for free once a year at www.AnnualCreditReport.com.
Identity theft often results in stolen money as well as damage to your credit due to fraudulent accounts opened in your name. Taking these preventative measures is a good start, but it is up to you to report any suspicious activity to your bank or other creditors. Without quick reporting, you’ll be responsible for personal credit card debt or other issues that arise due to ID theft. It may also become necessary to contact local law enforcement in extreme cases. Visit www.IdentityTheft.gov for more tips, resources, and information about victim’s rights in cases of identity theft.