Cyber crime—we hear it on the news and read it in the paper almost every week. A major retailer has announced a data breach or security leak. A new software “bug” has been discovered. A unique phishing scam has swept social media. The result is always the same: cyber criminals have compromised individuals’ private personal information, and the hackers plan to use their ill-gotten data to wreak financial havoc on the victims.
The common precautions to online identity theft are still very important and very effective: change passwords frequently, do not use the same password for all sites, and never respond to an email asking for personal information.
There are additional steps that you can take to further protect your assets from identity thieves:
- Custodians, including Charles Schwab and Fidelity, now offer verbal passwords and security tokens to individual account holders. Verbal passwords are a custom combination of words and numbers that a caller must give by phone before a custodian will speak to the client about his/her account. Security tokens are small hardware devices that authorize online access, in the form of a smart card or key fob.
- Place a credit freeze for your identity with the three major credit reporting agencies (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax). A freeze prevents anyone from opening credit in your name, including you. You can easily thaw the credit freeze if you need to apply for a credit card, a home mortgage, car financing, or other lines of credit.
- Disable online access to any financial accounts that you do not access frequently. A dormant online account is a vulnerable entry point for hackers and cyber criminals.
- Set up email or text alert on your credit cards, so you are notified instantly for online or over the phone charges on your credit card. You can also request notification based on amount or type of charge (e.g. gas station, over $100).
As cyber crime becomes more and more prevalent, individuals must become more proactive in protecting themselves. With the right precautions in place, you can help minimize your vulnerability as a potential target.
Plus, you can always contact your Moneta Team for assistance with any of these items to help you stay safe out there!