The 2017 Identity Fraud Study, released by Javelin Strategy & Research, found that $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016. In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion.
Sure, technology makes our lives easier, creating the opportunity to complete tasks quicker and access information that previous generations didn’t even know was available. But it also opens the door to an unimaginable number of threats to our lives and businesses.
Identity theft and cyberattacks are rampant almost every day. How can you fend off intrusions that might cost you agonizing hours – not to mention a lot of money – to correct?
What can you do to safeguard identity, credit card numbers and account information online? For starters, common sense goes a long way and better you start out more suspicious than trusting when it comes to Internet safety.
When shopping online, for instance, it’s often safer to stick to the well-known retailers such as Amazon and Walmart or websites that use established third-party verification services such as VeriSign and TRUSTe. But remember that in recent months even the biggest, presumably most secure names in consumer services and retail suffered hacks: Target, JP Morgan, United Parcel Service, Dairy Queen, Staples and so on.
You and I can’t protect multinational corporations, but we can do more to protect ourselves. Things to protect your identity:
• Don’t use the same password for multiple websites.
• When accessing Wi-Fi in public places, realize that scammers can monitor what you access online.
• Use a reliable antivirus and, if possible, firewall software to thwart hackers.
• Check your credit report for suspicious activity. The Fair Credit Reporting Act guarantees you access to your credit report every 12 months via a website called AnnualCreditReport.com.
• Regularly review your bank and credit card statements. People often discover identity theft long after the crime took place. The quicker the investigation starts, the likelier you are to minimize your losses. If you become a victim of identity theft, call your bank and credit card companies immediately.
Small steps will go a long way towards protecting your identity.