Tag Archive for identity theft

3 Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft

3 Tips to Help Prevent Identity Theft

3 Tips to Help Prevent Identity TheftRecently, I became a statistic. Like so many other people, my identity was stolen.

Luckily, I figured it out before the thief was able to purchase anything through the Amazon account they targeted.

But despite not losing any money, the incident still left a bad taste in my mouth. When I thought about it afterward, I realized part of my irritation was because I had made the classic mistake.

I thought identity theft could never happen to me. Except it did.

Even though I can?t change what happened, it got me thinking about how I can keep it from happening again. Here are a few things I’m going to do to help prevent identity theft.

1. Shred Documents

Don?t throw away your old tax returns, invoices or other important paperwork. Invest in a [easyazon_link keywords=”crosscut shredder” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]crosscut shredder[/easyazon_link] and run these documents through it instead. You can purchase one for around $35, making it an affordable way to deter identity theft.

If your identity is stolen, the amount of damage the perpetrator could do is staggering. Your information could be used to steal your money and ruin your finances.

Costs of repairing your credit afterward could run into the thousands. In addition, correcting everything could take years as new charges pop up from time to time.

Rather than tossing junk mail that has no appeal for you, shred it as well. Otherwise, criminals may use this information in much the same way.

2. Protect Your Information to Prevent Identity Theft

When divulging personal information to others, use discretion. Only give it out to those who truly need it. Otherwise, guard it carefully.

This advice does not apply solely to your social security number. You must also protect your birthdate, telephone number, address and any other information that labels you. There are criminals sophisticated enough to use your date of birth and address to figure out your social security number.

If you receive a phone call from someone who says they are from your bank, or other agency, asking for information by phone, don?t rattle it off immediately. This is information they should already have. That means most likely they are trying to scam you to steal your information.

Put your sensitive information somewhere secure. Keep files locked and don?t leave anything out where curious eyes may be tempted to take advantage of it.

Consider getting a [easyazon_link keywords=”locking mailbox” locale=”US” nw=”y” tag=”wisedollar-20″]locking mailbox[/easyazon_link], especially if you are away from home often. You should also pay attention to when your bills come each month.

If you do not receive a bill you were expecting, call your creditor to find out if one was sent. Not receiving a bill could be a sign that a thief may have taken your bill to steal your identity.

3. Safeguard Electronic Data

Safeguard your electronic information to help prevent identity theft. There are several ways to do this.

One way is to create strong, complex passwords for all of your electronic devices. Change them often and do not give them to anyone. Don?t allow passwords to be saved automatically on any of your computers or phones.

Another way to guard your identity is to put firewalls in place. You can also use virus-detection software to keep your information from falling into the wrong hands.

Third, do not open any suspicious correspondence you receive over the internet on any electronic device. This is how criminals phish for your information so they can steal your identity.

Although I became a statistic and fell victim to identity theft, it doesn?t have to happen to you. Use these tips to help prevent identity theft and keep your information secure.

 

Have you ever become prey to an identity thief? If so, what steps did you take to correct the situation?

 

Photo courtesy of: TheDigitalWay

How to Avoid Phishing Schemes

phishing

How to Avoid Phishing SchemesDid you know that you can go phishing with your email?

Yes, I spelled that right, phishing.

I don?t mean fishing by printing out your emails and then putting them on a hook and throwing it into the lake to see what sticks. I?m talking about phishing, a method where hackers try to get you to give up your personal information such as your credit card numbers, social security number or passwords to financial accounts.

Phishing schemes seem to be the popular method for hackers these days. These schemes may come in form of fraudulent websites and emails that look legitimate when they aren?t.

The emails may appear to come from the IRS or another trusted site saying if you don?t enter your account info you?ll lose x, y and z.

Although they sound legitimate, you should never enter your information, especially if it?s a pop-up window. If you are questioning wether or not an email you received is legitimate, it’s best to be cautious. Here are some other ways to avoid phishing?scams.

Beware of Unknown Senders and Generic Messages

Don?t open any email you don?t know who the sender is. If you don?t know the name or domain?don?t open that email.

Another warning sign is if the email is generic, saying dear sir/madame, and asking for your name, address, phone number, credit card, etc. It?s a phishing scam. Don?t enter your information. Delete it, block it and report it.

Not only will it make you think you know them, by opening it you could be opening your computer up to malicious software or viruses. If you don?t know them, block the sender and delete the message.

Federal Agencies and Banks Don’t Email You

Most federal and state agencies won’t?email you or call you. If the IRS wants to get a hold of you, they will send a letter for you to call them.

The same goes for fake bank emails. Your bank won?t ever ask for personal information over email. If you think an email might be from your bank, call them first and ask.

You should never give personal information in your emails to anyone. It?s really a standard?practice.

Avoid Pop-Up Screens

Don?t click on pop-up screens.?Your web browser has a pop-up blocker for a reason. If you trust the website you are on, you can choose to allow the pop-ups,?but if you are not familiar with the website, then it’s best to avoid pop-up screens. If they do pop-up, don?t click on it other than to close it.

Use Search Engines to Your Advantage

If you are unsure if the pop-up, email, or website you are seeing is legitimate, do a quick Internet search. There are a lot of websites that report fraud, phishing or suspicious sites, and if the site in question shows up there then delete it from your email right away. You can do the same thing with phone numbers too to see if where they are coming from and if other people have reported them as a scam.

A lot of this is common sense. Just like with other types of scams, if it looks, smells or feels suspicious don?t open or click anywhere on it!

A strong anti-virus on your computer will also help in deciding if something is suspicious. If you click on it and your anti-virus pops up saying it?s suspicious, then don?t go to the site.

Common sense is your friend on the internet so you can avoid phishing scams.

 

Have you ever fallen for a phishing scam? How else can these scams be avoided?

 

Photo courtesy of: TheDigitalWay