Technology advances have made our life a lot more simple; from keeping in contact with friends and family and even completing transactions. But as we know, with news of data breaches and concerns of scams, hacks and identity theft, technology has made it easier for criminals to affect your financial well-being. Here are some helpful tips to protect your identity.
We can check our credit report annually from all three credit bureaus; Equifax, Experian and Transunion. www.annualcreditreport.com is a great, free and secure resource to do so. Many banks and credit card companies now list our FICO scores, while the score is important, checking your credit can ensure you have no fraudulent credit inquires or accounts opened in your name.
Additionally, when you’re not applying for new credit it’s prudent to freeze your credit, meaning lenders cannot access your credit report and open accounts to an identity thief. It is also very easy to turn off a freeze any time you need to apply for credit. You will need to request a credit freeze from all three credit bureaus by going to their websites;
Protect your Snail Mail
Every one of us has received a letter from a credit card company or lender stating “You have already been Preapproved!” While this seems great, these letters contain a lot of personal information, and in the wrong hands can put your credit at risk. www.optoutprescreen.com is a legitimate source to use to request Opt-Out for lending and insurance coverage. Additionally, these letters should be shred before throwing them away.
Block Those Scammers
How many times have you had a number call you, only to hear a message from the IRS, or that you won a four-night free stay at any Marriot? Scam phone calls are annoying, not to mention it makes you avoid answering your phone from other important calls. Several iPhone and Android Aps such as Hiya can provide this service. In addition all major phone carriers such as AT&T, Verizon and Sprint offer services to block these calls. (1st)
Social Media Protection
If you have social media accounts such as Facebook or Instagram, we know we shouldn’t accept friend requests from people we don’t know. But have you also done those funny quizzes, like “What Type of Bread Are You?” Be careful, first you have to “Allow Access” which means all of your information. And many times, these quizzes ask personal identifying questions such as where were you born, your favorite team, your choice of food. While it seems harmless, this data could be used to hack passwords and allow scammers access to more personal information.
Updates are Important
How often are we on our computer and in the middle of a project, or doing work when you get the Windows notification of an update? And they never come at a good time, so we always hit “Remind me Later” or “Ignore”. The problem is these updates are important for firewall and security updates and should be done sooner than later. So take the time to do the update, or schedule it once you are done working.
Social Security Fraud
Unfortunately, it has become very common for individuals to pretend to be someone and collect on their hard-earned retirement benefits. In addition to scammers calling individuals claiming to be the Social Security Administration. (2nd) Several years ago the Social Security Administration stopped mailing out annual benefits statements, as a way to save money, and now you need to create an account online. If you haven’t done so, it’s important to create an account – to help provide security protection protocol, as well as review that your earnings history is correct. This can be done by going to www.ssa.gov
Protect that Number
Our Social Security number is linked to so many different accounts and providers. If you call your bank or even your doctor, usually they first ask for your Social to identity you. Be careful giving this number out. Often times you can ask the bank and your doctor to take a picture of your driver’s license. Next time you call, reference your driver’s license number instead.
I hope you have found these tips helpful. Take the time to implement all of these measures to protect yourself. Enhancements are being made from chip readers on credit and debit cards to facial recognition on our cell phones to unlock them, so let’s hope we are always one step ahead of the risks lurking out there.