Tips for Online Security
Online shopping is now an everyday task for many of us as the most popular and convenient way to pick up everything from everyday essentials and services to special gifts. However, many consumers are now becoming a little bit too complacent when it comes to our online ID protection. Online shopping opens up a door to identity theft and it is our responsibility to take the appropriate steps to protect our own identities from credit card theft and online identity theft. This may seem like a very daunting task, but there are plenty of simple tips we can follow to help us to safeguard our personal information, not only when shopping online, but any time we use the internet.
The first step is to restrict your online shopping to only those sites which you know and trust whenever possible. Look for the little padlock icon on your browser to signify that the site is secure before making a payment. If you make a large number of online transactions, it is well worth using a payment service such as PayPal or requesting a temporary credit card number to use online. Some shoppers also get a prepaid credit or debit card which they use online. There are also a number of security measures that you can take to further protect yourself online:
- Avoid sharing personal information such as your social security number, bank details, credit card number, and other sensitive information online.
- Install a reputable antivirus and anti-spyware software package on your computer to help prevent information being obtained by malicious software.
- Create and use strong passwords. When choosing passwords for online shopping sites, online banking, and services such as PayPal, make sure you opt for strong passwords containing numbers, symbols, and letters of both cases.
Even if you take all or most of these precautions there is still a possibility of falling victim to identity theft or fraud. It is important to check your credit card statement every month and to examine your PayPal transaction history on a regular basis. If you do happen to spot something suspicious, flag it up immediately by bringing it to the attention of your credit card issuer. The majority of credit card issuers have zero-liability fraud protection if issues are reported immediately. While it may still be inconvenient, at least you have the peace of mind that you will not be held financially responsible for fraudulent transactions.
RELATED: Identity Guard Review
Identity Theft Prevention Tips
Identity theft has been the fastest growing crime over the past several years. With the advances in technology and the creativity of identity thieves, it has become increasingly important to take measures to prevent identity theft. Criminals use a variety of methods to steal social security numbers, driver’s licenses, credit card numbers, ATM cards, dates of birth and more. With this information, they are able to fraudulently impersonate their victims and spend as much money as they can in a very short period of time.
There are two main types of identity theft: (a) account takeovers and (b) application fraud.
An account takeover takes place when someone acquires existing accounts from you and makes fraudulent purchases with the credit card account. Application fraud is when a thief steals your social security number and other personal information and is able to open new credit accounts in your name.
For preventing identity theft effectively, you must first know what you are protecting against. There are several ways a thief is able to obtain your information:
- Hacking into files at financial institutions, retailers and payment processing companies. This type of crime is on a steep rise and is something that is hard to protect against.
- “Dumpster Diving” in garbage cans for personal documents such as tax information, payroll information, pre-approved credit offers, credit card statements, and more.
- Sending “phishing” emails posing as a financial institution. Criminals are able to lure consumers to sites that look exactly like a financial institution’s real site. Once the consumers attempt to log in to the “fake” site, the criminals are able to capture the login credentials the consumer provides. The criminals can now go to the real financial institution and login with the information provided, giving them full access to your money.
- “Shoulder Surfing” at an ATM or computer
- Stealing mail from your mailbox
The TOP 10 ID Protection Tips
To decrease your exposure to identity theft, practice the following safety measures:
- Opt out of solicitation lists. By removing your name from the lists that credit card companies and insurance companies use to send pre-approved offers, you significantly lessen the chances that sensitive information can be stolen from your mailbox or your garbage.
- Place a fraud alert on your credit bureau file and renew it every 90 days. Activating a fraud alert is the best way to stop criminals from opening accounts in your name. When a fraud alert is placed on your credit bureau, any time a request for an account to be opened is made, the creditor is required to call you and you must authorize it before the account is established. These fraud alerts only remain active for 90 days, so you need to remember to request these quarterly.
- Keep an eye on public records to make sure that your name does not come upon any judgment filings, bankruptcy liens, DMV records and other public records.
- Shred sensitive documents. Use a cross-cut shredder to effectively destroy documents that contain personal information including, but not limited to, your social security number, mother’s maiden name, financial account numbers, passwords, PIN numbers, etc.
- Reduce the number of credit and debit cards you carry in your wallet. Many recommend not to carry debit cards because of the potential losses to your checking account.
- Keep a list or photocopy of all bank accounts, investment information, credit cards, and debit cards. Also keep track of the account numbers, expiration dates and phone numbers to customer service departments. This way you can quickly contact these companies in the event your cards are stolen. Make sure this list is kept in a secure location.
- Order your credit report at least once a year to check for changes in your information that were not authorized by you.
- Do not allow a long period of time to pass between the time when the mail is delivered to your home and when you retrieve it. Intercepting mail is one of the easiest ways thieves steal identities.
- Protect your social security number. Do not have it printed on your checks, never say it aloud to anyone in public when it can be overheard and never carry your social security card in your purse or wallet.
- Each month carefully review your bank statements. Oftentimes thieves will start out by making a small test purchase to see if the account is functional before going on a shopping spree. The sooner you catch fraud, the less damage caused to your pocketbook and credit file.
Preventing identity theft is no simple task, but in these current times, it is imperative that consumers remain vigilant in their efforts to ensure that they do not become a victim.
Should I DIY or Hire A Pro For Identity Fraud Protection?
Identity theft is one of the world’s fastest-growing crimes. It is a field that is inexpensive to learn and does not require special skills. This is why many people are investigating different ways of identity fraud protection online.
Consider ID Theft Protection
In today’s world where technology is quickly evolving, the internet is also quickly becoming more and more accessible. Because of this, it is easier than ever before to obtain all kinds of information. Whether you need to get specifics on a particular restaurant, need to get directions to the nearest gas station, or just want to learn more about a historical figure or celebrity, it is very easy to do so. Unfortunately, the ease at which you can retrieve the information you need is also available to people who might be looking for your personal information.
For this reason, many people turn to professional identity fraud protection agencies for help. There are a few different major companies that offer similar services, but they are not all the same. Indeed, they all actively monitor your credit cards, public records, social security number, bank accounts, and black-market sites. Most will help to reduce the amount of junk mail and credit card offers you receive, but only a few will give you free access to all three of your credit reports annually. Which one you choose, obviously, will depend on what level identity fraud protection you would like to be able to access.
Your Information Is For Sale
The most important thing you need to know is that your personal information is for sale all the time. Credit card companies are always looking for new customers, which is why you often receive “pre-approved” offers in the mail. While this is perfectly harmless to a degree, identity thieves understand this process and can also retrieve your information in precisely the same way. When you enlist the services of a professional company that reduces offers like these, you can be sure that your information is not being sold to other third parties as well.
1. Lock Down Your Credit Report
Similarly, most identity theft protection services lock down your credit reports, which is what banks, loan agencies, and even employers can access when you apply for anything. When you use professional protection services you will get a notification that someone is trying to access your credit information, at which point you will be then be notified so you can give your approval or not.
2. Auxiliary Benefits
There are some benefits to using professional identity fraud protection security companies that you may not realize straight away. For instance, because you report all of your credit sources to them (See Cards Reporting Credit Explained), if you lose your wallet or it is stolen you only have to make one call to ensure that your credit cards are not used. This could save you thousands of dollars and several hours of phone calls to your credit card companies!
3. Various Guarantees
Finally, you should know that identity theft protection companies usually offer some kind of guarantee, which acts as insurance in case of an incident. Just like your auto insurance company will pay for damages or other incidentals if you are in an accident or your car is stolen, financial indemnity companies can and will pay you if their services fail. Some of these guarantees are 100%, which means any and all money that is stolen from you will be returned. Some companies offer limits, like “up to one million dollars,” which is probably more coverage than most people need.
Identity theft protection can be a lot of work, which is why those who are greatly concerned will often utilize the services of a professional company. This does not mean, though, that you cannot take matters into your own hands. If you have the energy, time, and capability to do so, you can monitor your own credit reports as well as remove yourself or block your information from solicitors.
10 Reasons to Use Identity Protection Service
It’s apparent that 80% of service rendered by Identity Protection Services like Lifelock or IdentityGuard can be done without their help but here are 10 reasons why you need them:
1. Fraud Alerts
Fraud alerts are one of the important tools Identity Protection Services use in protecting your identity. They’d usually place a fraud alert with all three consumer reporting companies (Experian, Equifax, Transunion) within a few days of your signing up. A fraud alert on your credit report will compel any service provider (Bank, Credit Card issuer, an Insurance company, etc.) to verify the validity of a transaction and identify its initiator before getting it approved. They do this by calling your Phone Number (or sending Mail to your address) provided by the Identity Protection Service provider.
2. Credit Monitoring
Credit Monitoring services detect transactions carried out on your credit report. An Identity Protection Service provides a Credit Monitoring Service that’ll monitor as well as ensure you receive copies of your credit report from time to time. You can then get notified whenever your credit report receives an authorized change or transaction. Most Identity Protection companies monitor your credit report through consumer reporting companies. – A credit report contains information about you and your bill-paying history.
3. Protection for Infants & Minors
Even if you manage to defy all odds by being able to effectively monitor activities on your own Identity. Are you able to do such for a Child? Numerous surveys have revealed infants and minors are fast becoming the most favorable victims of identity theft. The reason for this can’t be far off. Due to the in-existence of a monitor over the financial activities of our children, a sizable number of minors wake up every day to find out their identity was once used to secure a loan that they have to pay for.
4. Service Guarantee
A service guarantee by your Identity Protection Service provider is similar to insure you against Identity Theft. In the event you become a victim, any amount lost is compensated for due to the service guarantee. Other service guarantees may also help pay for legal fees, investigators, accountants and other professionals you might need to hire once you become a victim of Identity Theft.
5. Lost Documents
Some Identity Protection Service Providers help their clients recover lost documents. All you’d need to do is notify such provider and they’d take responsibility to inform and request renewals from the issuers of your lost documents. Though renewal charges are usually incurred by the victim, this service alone saves victims of lost documents lots of time and money.
6. Personal Information
An Identity Protection Service will ensure to monitor activities involving your personal information. Some even go as far as monitoring hacker websites for traces of your personal Identity.
In the event, you suspect illegal activity on your account, your ID Protection Service will guide you on precausive steps to take. If you have any numbers to call, they’d be aware of such numbers and will assist you wherever necessary.
8. Spam Mails
Your spam mails can be considerably reduced through this service. Your Identity Protection Service provider will send requests seeking to remove your name and email from spam mail lists.
9. Pre-Approved Credit Card Payments
You probably wouldn’t remember that poker site you registered with so many years back. An Identity Protection Service behind eliminates those pre-approved credit card payments you’d never need. Depending on how adventurous you once were with the internet, this service could save you considerable amounts of dollars you’d rather spend on more useful purposes.
10. As a Victim
What’s the first step to take when you become a victim of Identity Theft? Should you file a police report or notify your bank, credit card company, and the Federal Trade Commission? Any decisions you take within the first few hours of discovering Identity Theft are vital. With the Phone Number of your Identity Protection Service on Speed Dial, you’re just a call away from receiving professional advice on the right way to go.
On an end note, more than 10 Million American Citizens suffer the consequences of Identity Theft each year – FTC ID Theft Survey Report. Of course, these figures don’t include the thousands (if not more) of minors yet to discover their social security number is been used by someone else. Even with the possibility of you monitoring your credit report by yourself, we all know how difficult placing a phone call after a hectic days’ work can be, and what happens to your kids? An Identity Protection Service does Identity protection on behalf of you and your loved ones. Protection is never 100% guaranteed. This is why any service guarantees in place will ensure you do not get hit hard on finances whenever clearing up your name becomes an issue.
The Final Word
For the amount of work that is involved, hiring a company to protect your identity is often a good value. Many people who have chosen this route are satisfied with the result. However, if you are quite savvy with a computer and have the time and patience necessary to monitor your own credit on a constant basis besides other ID security protection steps, you may also find that it is worth the work you put into it.