Money Matters: Identity Theft Solutions

Hackers are out there, ready, willing and able to sell our identities.  A hard-hitting example of this was the 2017 Equifax data breach, which affected over 140 million people. We still hear about data breaches in the news on a regular basis.

The Equifax data breach reminds us that we should take daily steps to help protect ourselves from such a prevalent threat as identity theft.  Here are some steps you can take right now to fight fraudulent activity:

  • Regularly check your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity
  • Review your credit reports for errors
  • Consider placing a freeze or fraud alert on your credit reports
  • Change all your passwords regularly.  Smart account management should include complex passwords that are changed regularly.  Consider making your passwords for financial accounts different than your email passwords, and make them as intricate as possible by including letters, numbers and symbols.
  • Update security questions. Do not use security answers on bank accounts that you might use on other non-financial accounts.
  • Is it email, text or phone phishing? Once fraudsters gather identifying information, they usually send official-looking texts, emails or phone calls to gather more data.  If you click on a link or respond to a text from an unfamiliar source, it may allow the fraudster to implant malware or viruses on your phone or computer.  Never click on any links in emails or respond to unknown senders of text messages.  If you receive something of concern that looks official, go to that business’s secure website to get the correct phone numbers to call and inquire about messages you have received.
  • Manage email regularly.  Because emails can contain a lot of personal information about you, like banking confirmations, make sure to delete email confirmations and try not to use email to send or store personal documents such as tax returns or loan documents.
  • Beware of phone scams. If you receive a call from a bill collector or other source soliciting you for money on a past-due bill, you need to validate the debt.  A common scam involves fraudsters pretending to be the IRS and collecting thousands of dollars from victims that have their personal data compromised.  Always confirm debts with creditors directly and remember that most of the time you should receive a letter in the mail before a phone call.
  • When services allow for it, block personal information, like your date of birth.  Do not leave this information easily accessible to dishonest people who might be gathering information.
  • Take advantage of the credit and identity theft protection services available through your program.

Source: MySecureAdvantage