Financial crimes have made the news a lot in the last few years. The Target hacking, the Equifax breach and prevalence of credit card scamming has been grabbing many headlines. Sometimes people can feel helpless when confronting this issue but there are steps that you can take to protect yourself.
Safe Guarding Yourself Online
Shop with Trusted Vendors
Everyone likes a good deal but remember there is an old saying that remains true even in the age of online shopping: "Some deals are to good to be true." In your search for the best price, you may come across sites offering great deals on items you're looking to get a discount on. However, beware of those sites. They may be designed to get you to give credit card information, sell you goods of questionable quality or both. It's best to stick with recognized vendors or research new vendors before sharing your info.
Make Sure The Website Is Secure
When shopping online, even from trusted vendors, you should make sure that they are encrypting your data to help better safeguard against your information being compromised. Apple explains how it works here. Click the links below to see how to tell if the site is secure for Chrome and Firefox. Just remember though, just because a site is secure doesn't mean that your information can never be compromised with the vendor. It does mean however that they are at the very least taking the standard steps to secure your data.
Consider Using 3rd Party Payment Services
Companies like Paypal, Amazon and Google allow you to pay at some online retailers and service providers through their apps. Some services similar to these also add an extra layer of security to your purchase by not directly sharing your credit or debit card info with the vendor. That way if your vendor is compromised your information won't be at risk. It also makes it easier to pay for things as you don't constantly have to add your credit card info. However, in order to use their services you do have to share your information with these services and while no company can guarantee they will never be compromised, none of these services have been to this point. Also, since these services make paying for things easier you may run the risk of buying more things so be aware of your spending.
Do Not Keep An Unsecured Copy of Your Credit/Debit Card Number On Your Computer
If you have scanned documents on your computers and digital devices such as cell phone contracts or bank info that contain sensitive data that can be used to compromise your accounts, encrypt them immediately or delete them if they are no longer necessary. If you ever inadvertently download Malware or a Virus people with access to your system can come across this information.
Safe Guarding Yourself In Your Everyday Life
Always Check Your Credit & Debit Card Statements
Call your bank to check on suspicious or unrecognized purchases immediately.
Set Up Alerts
Turn on alerts on your accounts so you will be notified via your phone or email everytime a purchase is made.
You've Been the Victim of Fraud Before
If you've been a victim of fraud or think there is a strong probability that you may become one, you can take the step of freezing your credit. All three credit rating agencies (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion) allow you to freeze your credit. That means you or anyone else cannot open a line of credit anywhere using your information unless a pin you've setup has been used. Freezing your credit does cost money and so does unfreezing it. This doesn't affect your credit score. Before taking this measure you should fully understand how this will impact your financial life.
By following these suggestions, you can help safeguard yourself against a growing problem.
To see whether a website is safe to visit, you can check for security info about the site. Chrome will alert you if you can't visit the site safely or privately. In Chrome, open a page. To che
Firefox uses a padlock icon next to a website's URL to let you know your connection is encrypted. Click on the icon for more information.
Identity theft can come for you when you least expect it, and even the largest institutions in the world aren't as responsible with your personal information as they could be. To that end, it's important to understand what identity theft is, how it can affect you, and the best ways to prevent it.