Ways you can protect your identity
Data Breaches. Identify Theft. These are terms you might be too familiar with lately. In fact, something about cyber fraud appears in the news so often, we can almost get numb to it and disregard it as just another thing going on in the world. Sadly, cybersecurity is something that should be taken seriously, and you cannot let your guard down at any time. Following simple steps, and a little vigilance, can save you a great deal of time, hassle, and possibly money.
You should first know what criminals are after in order to know what to protect. You might be correctly assuming that criminals are looking for anything they can get their hands on. Criminals use the information they steal to create cards of their own and go shopping on your behalf. This information gets used to commit identity fraud, and open credit cards or to get loans using your name and good credit.
Luckily, there are things you can do to help protect yourself. Most credit cards and debit cards (like the greenpenny debit card) have a chip installed in the card. Using this chip to make your payment encrypts the transaction, so even if a criminal steals data from that retailer, your information is safe. Using mobile wallets, like Apple Pay or Samsung Pay do the same thing. This can be especially useful in the case of a gas pump that doesn’t have a chip reader installed at the pump, but accepts mobile payments.
Protecting your personal information is a little more difficult, but still manageable. The most proactive action you can take is putting a freeze on your credit. This should be done at all three major credit bureaus (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). There is a small fee, but once the freeze is in place, nothing can ping your credit report. If a criminal is trying to open a loan with your stolen information, your file cannot be accessed to approve the transaction. Your credit is still accessible to you – you only need to call the credit bureau and unfreeze your credit file when you need it.
There are also several companies offering to monitor your information for you, at a cost. Many of these companies tout the ability to scan the internet for use of your social security number and alert you when something does ping your credit file. Some offer insurance in the case that you do suffer identity fraud. Do your own due diligence before choosing a company to make sure they are legitimate and offer protection you are comfortable with.
At the rate data breaches are occurring, it won’t be long until every person in the USA is affected in some way. Paying attention to your information and taking a few steps is key in preventing your information from being “out there”, or at the very least, making it unusable for anyone who might have it. As an account holder with the bank, you have access to Cyber ScoutTM, a service that can assist you in the event you are the victim of identity theft. Contact us with your questions, and we’ll do what we can to help you stay cyber-safe!