I was recently listening to NPR and was surprised that 2017 was the most successful year for hackers to date. They were able to hack into more accounts, steal more information, and funnel more money than ever before. It’s hard to wrap my mind around our ever-evolving technology and security in the digital age, while also seeing identity theft at an all-time high.
According to a recent article by LifeLock, there are six prevalent forms of identity theft, including: employment or tax-related fraud, credit card fraud, phone or utilities fraud, bank fraud, loan or lease fraud, and government documents or benefits fraud. When you are working on your personal finances, the last thing you need is to find out someone has been stealing hard-earned money. With so many ways for hackers to grab our personal information, how can we protect ourselves from identity theft?
We have done some research and have compiled some tips below:
1.Debit card vs. credit card
It’s your money versus their money. When money is stolen from your checking account, you will immediately feel the effects as the money diminishes from your account. It could take months to get the money back. And then, if they take more money than you have, the fees will stack up quickly. (Make sure to notify your financial institution as soon as you notice fraud!) Whereas, the money from a credit card is not yours; it is the company’s money that you are borrowing. So, it is their responsibility! Usually, your account (aka your own money) is never affected when a hacker gets ahold of your credit card information.
Although it may be more convenient with the millions of passwords we try to remember each day, using the same or similar passwords for online accounts is highly discouraged! There are many apps and websites that will generate a random password but also save them in a secure place.
Dumpster diving is still a thing. We all are still receiving confidential information on paper. Don’t think a thief is beyond getting their hands dirty. Compared to online hackers, it’s relatively easy to find out when trash day is in a certain area. Before you throw away the credit card applications or utility bills, make sure to tear them up and/or shred them! You will make it nearly impossible for a thief to find personal information in your trash.
Our best advice: Think twice before you pay for anything and everything. Try to be two steps ahead of a hacker, and it will help clarify the best payment method to use in each scenario. Don’t let a hacker take control of your personal finance goals!
LifeLock, How Common is Identity Theft? (Updated 2017) The Latest Stats, https://www.lifelock.com/education/how-common-is-identity-theft/
LifeLock, How to Help Protect Yourself From Identity Theft, https://www.lifelock.com/education/help-protect-yourself-identity-theft/