Is your money safe? Identity theft is growing at an alarming pace, which should tell you it’s time to tighten your financial habits in order to keep thieves and hackers from plundering your bank account. In 2015, U.S. consumers reported 490,220 cases of identity theft to police, up from 332,647 in 2014, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
If you think of identity fraud as something that happens to grandma, think again. In fact, 30% of identity theft victims last year were between the ages of 20 and 39, according to the FTC.
Use Random PINs And Strong Passwords
A common form of identity fraud is bank fraud, which happens is when someone gets access to your financial card and PIN. If you think your account's PIN has been compromised or leaked, contact your bank. For the best security, the four digits should be truly random. Don’t choose numbers that have obvious personal meaning, and avoid sequences that make specific patterns on the keypad (for example, 8-6-2-4). For online banking, make sure your password is strong, complex and unique to the site. For tips on how to build site-specific passwords, watch this video.
Technology makes banking much easier and convenient, there’s no doubt about that. Unfortunately, if you are not protected and secure, you’ll also make it easy and convenient for bad guys to grab your cash. When you’re on an unprotected Wi-Fi network, avoid making money transfers or even checking your account balances. Make sure your computer has the latest malware and virus protection, too.
Take Care When Sharing Personal Information
Many people who thought they knew better have fallen for it. We’re talking about freely giving personal information, such as account information and Social Security numbers, over the phone to an imposter posing as a representative from your bank. Just make this rule for yourself, no matter what: if anyone initiates a call and asks for payment or personal information, don’t do it. Politely tell the caller you want to verify their claim before you make a payment.
Review Your Credit Report
Every year, the three credit-reporting agencies, which are Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, are required to provide a free copy of your credit report. Visit annualcreditreport.com to check each of these once per year. It’s best to stagger these, too. Start with one, then set up reminders on your mobile phone to check the other two, one in four months, the other in eight.
If you have a Kasasa account, ask your institution if they offer Kasasa Protect, which offers comprehensive ID theft protection and resolution services.
Do these simple things and stay alert, and hopefully, your financial information will stay yours (and yours alone)!