Cybercriminals have been making waves through internet scams in recent years. The risk of having your identity stolen due to online information loss has increased exponentially and a remarkable one in four people will experience identity theft. Your information could be stolen and then sold online for large amounts of money, allowing cybercriminals to open credit cards and more in your name.
69% of Americans are more afraid of having their credit card information hacked than nearly any other type of information theft. In 2014, roughly half of Americans, 47%, experienced a credit card hack. So how can you avoid becoming one of these numbers? The key is in digital security.
One of the easiest ways to gain access to your computer and information is through downloads or links in your email. Even if a link comes to you from a friend, it could mean their account was hacked and the link is a trojan horse or worse. Opening links without verifying with the friend that their account is stable can lead to a potential computer infection and information loss. Always verify links and downloads before making your computer vulnerable.
Limit Information Release
Every piece of information you release about yourself becomes a part of the puzzle online hackers are putting together. By finding your full name, date of birth, physical address and credit card numbers, a hacker is fully equipped to begin opening accounts in your name, in effect ruining your credit score and finances.
To avoid becoming a part of this growing statistic, be aware of how you are releasing your personal information. Avoid posting physical addresses, personal information or even your pet’s names on social media. All of these pieces of information can be used to crack your passwords and access your personal information.
Monitor Your Credit Report
Every year you are entitled to a free credit report from one of the three following companies, Equifax, TransUnion or Experian. These are the only three credit reporting companies, so be careful not to release your information to anyone else. If you have any reason to believe your information has been released or you were a part of a data breach, notifying these companies is critical.
A sign that your identity has been compromised could come in a number of ways. It could be health insurance benefits maxed out, strange charges on bank statements or a poor credit score. Contact one of the above companies to have them put a fraud alert on your account if you believe your information was compromised. This can help you save money and sanity during the identity reclamation process if you catch it early.