5 Tips to Prevent Data Breach and Credit Scams

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Increasing cases of identity theft in the United States have sent alarming ripples to federal authorities. The financial setbacks with data breaches as the major cause amounted to accumulated losses of a whopping $37 billion by 2010, national figures said. And one key reason emerged as the driving force behind the debacle – the absence of a strong data breach protection, Fox Business said in a report.

Individuals and institutions are equally guilty of neglecting the necessary protection from credit scams and data breaches, the observance of which would have deterred many attacks. This should not be the case, experts said, adding that self-protection measures are readily available for everyone.

You can turn back efforts by thieves to access your personal information by seriously considering and heeding the practical anti-ID theft steps below. And in the process, you might be able to prevent credit scams.

Know thy enemy. Today’s technology allows thieves to steal personal data without resorting to break-ins. They only need to hack into your private information – credit card particulars, birth date and Social Security number. What they get can be used or traded for financial gains. Having a clear idea of who the attackers are serves as a crucial protection for would-be victims.

Monitor your accounts religiously. By doing this, you’ll spot in advance anomalies normally associated with ID thefts. “If you can, don’t wait until your statement arrives to check for unusual activity or unauthorized charges,” the Huffington Post said in a report. If your bank offers online banking services, register for an account. Check on this regularly and report immediately if errors or inconsistencies are identified.

Take active credit monitoring. Pick up this important habit even before you become a victim. Tedious as it may, credit monitoring raises red flags on fraudulent activities connected to your credit credentials. Experts noted that in numerous cases, credit card information was sometimes pilfered with the victims completely unaware. But with credit monitoring, you’ll get alerts of non-sanctioned activities, allowing you to act accordingly and arrest the onset of damages. Note that you are entitled to one free credit report every year from each of the major credit bureaus.

Opt for fraud alerts on your credit report. This essentially is a “good extra level of protection,” the Huffington Post said. With this in place, fraudsters trying to conduct businesses under your name will have to hurdle verification schemes set up by credit agencies. For serious instances of breaches, creditors will have to contact you prior to the approval of any transactions.

Secure your online tools. Hackers make their way to your information via the instruments you use online. To best protect your personal computer or smartphone, install internet security suites – anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewall—the works. Protect these gadgets too by connecting only through secured networks. Whenever possible, avoid accessing public Wi-Fi services and using public PCs. Stick to your private laptop or smart phone and login only on your home network and mobile internet account.

Mind your social media behaviour. Never let your guard down while making friends online. When sharing with the virtual world, make sure that you are not giving away clues for thieves to decrypt the electronic locks to your personal identity. “Avoid sharing too much information online, including social networking sites,” warned the Huffington Post.

Be wary of phishing scams. These are deceptive emails instructing you to click a URL for alleged account verifications. The link actually leads to a bogus site designed to fool you into supplying your login information and password. When faced with this situation, contact your bank to confirm the message’s authenticity. Forbes recommends typing the site address directly into a web browser if you must check and look for these indicators: a small lock icon and the ‘HTTPS’ prefix to the site’s address. Just one of them out of sight, it is likely that somebody is baiting you into a costly scam.

Act swiftly if you believe data breach has occurred. Gather all the relevant information and quickly notify your credit providers plus the concerned credit bureaus and authorities. Fox Business also suggests victims initiate the cancellation of the infected accounts to minimize or prevent losses. All account information – login details and passwords – will require resetting, this time opting for stronger digital locks by using alpha-numeric combinations and special characters.

Half the battle is won by employing a good blanket of protection from credit scams and data breaches. While it is true that ID thieves, determined as they are, will not be discouraged by any form of defense, these steps will at least place you a few steps ahead of them. Any other tips you have in mind that will bolster your data breach protection?

Amy Johnson is an active finance blogger who is fond of sharing interesting finance related articles to encourage people to manage and protect their finances.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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