Remember the massive cybercrime that affected thousands of Target patron earlier this year? Aside from that largely publicized incident, it’s been reported that 13 million Americans fell victim to identity fraud in 2013. An increase of 500,000 from 2012!
Phyllis Schneck, deputy Secretary for cybersecurity and communications for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, recently said in a news release, “We have seen a sharp increase in the number of malicious actors attempting to access personal information or compromise the systems we all rely on, in the retail industry and elsewhere”.
Here’s 5 tips you can start implementing now to protect your personal information.
1. Think twice before providing sensitive information like your birth date and address. Financial institutions use this info for identity verification to access accounts but before providing it to other, ask why it’s needed and how it will be protected.
2. When online and on social media, take extra caution with and what applications to download. Social networks are a hotbed for identity fraud activity. Turn off your GPS/location functions from applications. Using those applications make you more susceptible to fraud.
3. Online mobile banking is so convenient and it’s here to stay. I use it and I love it! However, precautions must be taken when using mobile devices. Ensure your network connection is secure and your devices have updated security. NEVER access you bank info through public Wi-Fi. Use your carrier’s cellular service.
4. Detect activity early by using a comprehensive identity protection service that not only monitors credit reports, but also scans public records and online activity for signs of fraudulent use of personal information.
5. Be alert and report suspicious activity to your financial institution and law enforcement. I get online and look at our bank activity and our primary credit card activity daily. The sooner you learn of the fraud, the sooner recovery can begin, reducing potential losses.
You may evaluate your risk of identity theft with this free Identity Risk Calculator provided by American Family & Identity Theft 911© . This online tool asks a series of simple questions and, based on your answers, gives you a risk “score” along with a report on how you can reduce your exposure to identity theft.
For more information on how to protect your family against identity theft, please contact us.
The Patrick O’Brien Agency – Fishers, IN