That’s from Javelin Research & Strategy’s 2019 Identity Fraud Report, proving data breaches are a rising concern. But identity theft is one rising trend you don’t want to participate in. It can do serious damage to your financial well-being.
If you don’t believe it, check this out to see what happens to your credit score after identity theft compromises a personal loan or line of credit.
For the short version, it’s nothing good when a thief gets their hands on your finances.
So why let them? Follow these tips to protect yourself from fraud.
Share Your Information Carefully
When it comes to your financial and contact details, keep this information close to the vest. Only legitimate financial institutions (like a credit reporting agency or provider of the line of credit loans) and retailers have a valid reason to need this data.
Create Strong Passwords
Making a profile is an expected part of buying things or borrowing money online. Retailers and financial institutions need to know a little bit about you before they can approve a transaction or grant you funds, after all.
When they do, they ask you to protect this profile with a password. Now, you may want to fallback on the same password for every profile. This strategy certainly makes it easier to remember your login credentials, but it’s a common online weakness.
Security experts suggest using a unique password, especially if it’s for an online line of credit or credit card — or anything else that involves your finances, for that matter.
Here are some other pointers to keep in mind the next time you have to set up a new password.
- Things to Include: You should use a mixture of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and special characters. The longer the better, but eight characters is a common benchmark.
- Things to Avoid: Easily guessed information about you, such as names, birthdates, or phone numbers.
Review Your Records
Keep close tabs on your line of credit or credit card statements, as well as your banking records and credit report. Regularly checking these documents will help you catch anything that doesn’t belong.
If you see a charge you didn’t make or an account that you didn’t open, contact that provider of the account and the reporting agency that shows the error. They’ll give you detailed instructions on how to dispute these inaccuracies.
As cases of identity theft rise with each year, fraud may be a very real threat to your finances. But a thief stealing away with your information isn’t a guarantee. You may be able to reduce your chance of becoming a victim of identity theft by locking up your data tightly.
Take control of your personal information and remember these tips to keep it safe.