Don’t Be a Victim to Identity Fraud
All too often you hear about security breaches and the challenges of recovering from identity fraud. Fortunately, there are several ways to protect yourself and your family from potential cyber threats. Take a few minutes to read about some basic things that you can implement to protect your personal information and avoid being the next victim of identity theft or fraud.
Create a Strong Password
Let’s start with the basics. When you think about online access or the key to your personal information, it’s the password. You want to make sure that your password is strong and secure. Avoid using the word “password” or your birth date. Create one that is specific to you but is also going to make it tough for someone else to figure out. Using a combination of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters will give you a strong credential and serve as a first form of protection.
Avoid Using the Same Password
While it can be tempting to keep things simple and use one password for your accounts, it can make it easier for someone to access your personal information. If someone figures out your one password, they now have access to everything. Protect yourself by creating different passwords for your accounts.
If the thought of having to memorize multiple passwords seems daunting or overwhelming, there are tools that can alleviate that burden. Find yourself a well-rated secure password manager in which you have to remember one key password to access that platform.
Utilize the Two-Factor Authentication
It’s starting to become more common for companies to require a two-factor authentication to access your account as an enhanced form of protection. You will receive a notification via text message, phone call, or email with a verification code that is needed in order to access that account. The two-factor authentication serves as an identity confirmation tool and helps lower your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft and fraud.
Make Sure Your Software is Updated
If you’re working on a computer, tablet, or mobile phone, make sure it’s up to date in terms of the software. You’ll get nagged from time to time with a little notification icon that reminds you to update your software. It will take a few minutes to do so, but it’s a good form of protection to have the latest version of software on your browser. Sometimes even the mobile application that you’re using has updated their own security settings. It’s prudent to make sure you have the most secure version of whatever you’re working with.
Always Verify the Sender
We all have access to email this day and age and do a lot of things through that form of correspondence committee. It’s likely that you’ll receive an email that says, “click here” or “download this program.” Before you do any of that, always verify the sender. Make sure it’s a safe sender or somebody you know that’s sending you that information. Don’t automatically download something or click any links without verifying the sender. If you receive a suspicious email, check the spelling of the email address and the contents of the subject line. Typically, those are good clues to help you verify the sender.
Be Mindful of What You Post to Social Media
We all have an online presence to some degree so it’s a good rule of thumb to be mindful of what you post on social media. You’re essentially giving the keys to the kingdom if you’re sharing your locations and giving access to your personal pictures.
As you venture into the world of social media, make sure your settings are updated appropriately, especially when it comes to who can view your profile. You want to prevent the nefarious individuals from accessing the gold mine of information on you.
What to Do if You’re a Victim to Identity Fraud
Try to find out what information was compromised or hacked and the severity of that information. If it’s something along the lines of a Social Security number or personal bank account information, act quickly. Your next step after identifying or triaging the situation is to contact the credit bureaus. You may want to consider locking things down in terms of your credit report: Equifax, TransUnion, Experion. Notify them and they’ll work with you on putting a lock on your credit report. Contact the institutions that were affected directly. If you’ve already been hacked, you can be susceptible to future hacks from that same party if you don’t go directly to that provider.
Consider signing up for some sort of identity theft protection from a reputable company. Reputable companies will help keep you in a good situation. If you find that you are a victim of identity theft or fraud, you’ll have a team of professionals behind you that you’re leveraging to get you out of that bad situation.
If you’re interested in having a conversation about how to protect your personal information and the resources that are available, consider talking with one of our financial planners at Financial Dynamics & Associates, Inc. As a financial advisory firm in the Midlothian and Richmond, Virginia metro area, our mission is to help improve the lives of our clients and impact our community through engagement, trust, and transparency.
Advisory services offered through J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc. J.W. Cole Advisors, Inc., and Financial Dynamics and Associates, Inc. are unaffiliated entities.