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Protect Yourself from Identity Theft & Online Fraud

Identity theft occurs when fraudsters have access to enough information about someone’s identity. The identity could be their name, address and date of birth. This information is used to commit fraud either online or offline. Identity theft has become a big problem since more and more people are making the internet a part of their lives. The aim of this theft is for financial gain as well as obtains goods and services through deception. In most of the cases, the phishing party uses your credit card to order goods, and in other cases apply for credit cards, and take advantage of your good credit rating. Correcting these issues usually involves a lot of time, and energy since the damage caused is huge. Here are tips to help you minimize your chances of becoming a victim of identity theft and online fraud.

To protect you from identity theft and online fraud:

1) Shred documents that have financial information like credit card statements, bank statements and tax documents. Identity thieves usually go through dumpsters and trash bags looking for financial information like credit card receipts and offers, paid bills and other items which provide them with your information.

2) Keenly monitor your credit report and look for suspicious activity. If possible, subscribe to a credit protection service which will alert you of changes in your credit report.

3) When choosing a password for your online transactions and accounts:

  • Do not use the same password for all accounts, use different passwords for every email account, and use unique passwords for websites where you enter your credit card.
  • Do not use short passwords because there is a high risk that someone can guess your password. Create passwords with letters, special characters, and numbers and make up character strings not found in the dictionary.
  • Do not use your kids’ names, your pet’s name, your nicknames or even names from characters in books or movies.
  • Avoid use of numbers like birthdays, addresses, telephone numbers and social security numbers. These are very easy to guess.
  • Change your passwords every six months and if you suspect that the passwords have been compromised then change them immediately.

4) Watch out for phishing scams which will request you to update your account or credit card settings through email where a link will be provided. Do not click on the link or copy it, but rather type the website address if you can identify the company on a different browser. This is because phishers use fake e-mails and websites to pretend they are trustworthy companies and institutions, such as banks and insurance companies. Many phishers use spam e-mail therefore, install a good spam filter to keep spam out as much as possible. Scammers an also intercept emails so avoid sending sensitive information on e-mail.

5) Check your account balances weekly to reconfirm your balances.

6) PIN numbers and passwords should be memorized and never written down.

7) Purchase updated antivirus software. This high-quality virus protection package can prevent and eliminate viruses and other dangerous items designed to steal your personal information. It will also be able to scan e-mail and attachments for viruses. Make sure you equip your PC with the latest anti-spyware protection.

8) Use a VPN connection, especially if you are on a public Wi-Fi and whenever you input sensitive data like credit card information or logging in to secure areas.

Finally, by protecting yourself from identity theft and online fraud, you avoid trying to clean up any mess left by a fraudster which can take you years to recover.

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