Many people use the internet to transfer money through mobile or net banking and make payments online. But, Through identity theft, fraudulent people can siphon off financial information of people and use it for their financial gain. Your personal information can be used to get a new credit card and drain off your accounts. On the other hand, your bank details can be used to file a tax return in someone else’s name for getting a refund from the IRS.
There have been many cases of identity theft being reported all across the country. Possibly, It is second only to complaints about debt collectors! Nearly $110 billion had been lost by various consumers due to identity theft alone. This has become one of the selected ways for various criminals, owing to the demand of the internet. Stealing any person’s identity has been quite easy as one can easily get hold of personal details thanks to social media profiles, many online shopping accounts, and email IDs. Since staying away from the internet is not an option, Dallas based law firm Recovery Law Group will suggest that you should take care against identity theft. Though there are no many methods available to prevent identity theft, There are tips available which can be used to make stealing personal information slightly harder for criminals.
Here is what you can do to ensure you do not become a victim of identity theft-
- Review bank and credit card statements on time
Any fraudulent charge on your credit card or bank account can be challenging but in a short time frame. That should always be kept in mind and for bank statements and credit card bills should be examined immediately so that any inapplicable activity can be alerted to the concerned bank or Credit Card Company on time.
- Credit report should be regularly monitored
You should examine your credit report regularly for any fraudulent activities. You can ask any 3 major credit recording companies for a free copy of your credit record as per federal law. In case you find anything different, Close the concerned accounts and get your credit report corrected.
- Use fraud alerts or security freezes
As per the new federal law, You can have a free security freezes and fraud alerts on your credit report. That will make it harder for any imposter to open an account in your name and help in protecting your credit.
- Destroy sensitive information-carrying documents properly
Credit card reports, Bills, Bank statements, etc. are documents that contain personal data which can be used for identity theft. You must, therefore, Secure that before throwing such documents you either strip them or destroy them properly. Though this method is not preferred in most cases of online identity theft, Yet the risk is not worth taking.
- Shop online from trustworthy retailers only
Many business organizations are thriving in the time of internet. However, Before you buy stuff across the Internet, Be sure that the business is legitimate and not a scam. Since most e-commerce websites use secure payment gateways, your bank and identity details are safe.
- Create strong passwords for all online accounts and don’t use them again
Most sites request you to use a strong password with a sufficient mix of alphanumeric and special characters for your online accounts. Having multiple passwords for various online accounts can be irritating. Though it is difficult to remember, It is recommended than a weak password, which is simpler to crack. Using the same password for different accounts can be fatal in case of a data break at one site. Thus you should make it a point to use different and strong passwords for different online sites.
- Opt for two-factor authentication if possible
Two-Factor authentication requires a secret code which is sent to you via text message or email, apart from the usual username and password. This helps whenever anyone uses a new system to login into your account, Opt to activate two-factor authentication whenever available on any website.
- Avoid sharing every detail on social media
Most sites have security questions as a fall-back mechanism to recover your password. The answers to these questions are supposed to be secret so as to protect identity theft. However, If you post every small detail about your life on social media like Facebook etc. you are providing fraudsters, The key to your accounts.
- Be alert while using public Wi-Fi
Most public places like coffee shops, malls, etc. provide you free Wi-Fi, But they are unsecured. Thus any activity that you make using them can easily be discovered from your username, password, and any financial information. It is a suggestion to you do not use public Wi-Fi for sites where you are required to make any financial transaction. In case you have to do so, opt to sign in using a VPN to protect any information.
Recovering from Identity Theft
Identity fraud can have serious ramifications for the victims. However, there are steps available to protect yourself from such instances. If, however, due to a stroke of bad luck, your identity has been stolen, there are a few steps which you can take:
- Report the fraud as soon as detected to the companies where it occurred.
- Report theft to FTC at IdentityTheft.gov.
- File report with local police
- Ensure that the said account is frozen or closed.
- Change the login IDs, password and PINs.
- Get credit reports and place a fraud alert or security freeze on them.
Many times, People usually neglect bank statements or credit card bills and credit reports as they warn people of their grim financial situation. However, Identity theft can worsen the situation. It is therefore important to keep an eye on your accounts to ensure that your hard-earned money is well protected.