We have all heard of those credit card scams — unruly use of our personal bank accounts and it’s not just the laymen who are affected by underhanded breaches of data but it’s a problem that is significant enough to have the attention of governments all over the world. Identity theft happens when an unknown person or a programmed system obtains your crucial information such as your legally registered name, NRIC (National Residency Identification Code) number, bank account passwords etc to execute online purchasing or other such crimes while masking your true involvement, which can cause havoc to your financial standing.
Identity theft doesn’t only apply to the boundaries of banking and social media websites, but have reached a whole new level when a group of professional hackers took on the United States’ Office of Personal Management and accessed the Social Security numbers of more than 4 million federal workers. Stolen data that comprised of Social Security numbers, insurance ID and date of birth made way for the thieves to generate bogus refunds.
Keeping our guards up with the ever increasingly sophisticated cyber-attacks is quite a challenge. There are, however some trusted establishments which provides services against identity theft, provided you are willing to pay a handsome fee. They offer to reimburse you for the lost amounts, monitor credit accounts and ultimately guard your identity. But, there are some simple steps you can follow to make sure your information stays with you and no other 3rd party has access to it.
7 Ways To Keep Your Details Secured:
- First rule of thumb — always when using a public computer, such as the ones in a cyber cafe, make sure you clear the history of logins and passwords.
- Don’t ever be excited when you see pop up messages while visiting certain websites that say — you have won a prize and urging you to claim it. They will mostly ask for your vital information and this will end you up zeroing your bank account, often called “phishing”. Always verify that you are on a familiar website with substantial security control.
- Shred credit card statements, medical or insurance details and never leave it in a bin where it can be accessible to just anyone. Investing in a good shredder is a good idea.
- Depending on which country you are in, credit cards have better guarantees under the central law. Confirm purchases online with credit card rather than your regular online payment services.
- Take the effort to regularly check your bank statement and look out for irregular or uncommon transactions.
- Verify your mailing addresses at financial institutions, banks and insurance companies you are attached with. This is because the thieves might fill out change of address forms and the transactions remain off your viewing from then on.
- If you are a person who has done and taken up all the above-mentioned precautions and still needs an extra protection of your important data, investing on a good and trusted identity protection service might seem as a good idea. There are various services and options available right from your bank or insurer. Deciding on a proper protection system is the key here. Many banks now do send alerts to their account holders to inform and keep track of the account’s activities.
Furthermore, there are companies, which specialize only with identity protection namely, LifeLock Ultimate, IdentityForce, Trusted ID and more. They are known by large as the experts in identity protection. As for today, they offer various mixes of preventive and reactive tools to upkeep your data, the most being the freezing of credit and fraudulent alerts. They also provide recovery assistance in addition to a huge range of choices of information protected. Coming back to fraudulent alerts and credit freeze, these are measures where you can take up for yourself unless you want to pay an institution to do it for you.
1. Fraudulent Alerts
This service works in a way where the ID protectors will place fraud alerts with the main credit bureaus (a maximum of 3) regardless of in the event of attack or otherwise. This will force the credit agency or banks to check and verify before approving any credit requests or transactions in your name. This is still not infallible to the greater lot and is not a guarantee that your identity won’t be swiped.
2. Credit Freeze
Freezing your files can be beneficial in a way that it doesn’t allow any 3rd party companies to access your credit unless you are already dealing business with them. This will successfully seal information from any new creditor. This option too has a downside, where it can be troublesome when it comes to mortgage, loans or any other form of credit. This will require you to contact the bureaus to unfreeze the files and which will cost you a fee. The process usually takes a few days.
On the other hand, cancel any kind of compromised account. You can contact the fraud department of the bank or Credit Card Company for each of the disputed item to close and renumber your account.
As a matter of option, there is also a personal privacy audit you can opt for to protect your identity. According to other sources, a privacy ‘audit’ will provide a well-furnished examination of policy and practice, point out compliance issues and procedures. Our privacy audits make use of several techniques, which includes questionnaires, written reviews, interviews and base systems and processes inspection. Privacy audits also play a crucial role on the organizational level of any establishment. It is much more appropriate to term it as Security Audit on an institutional level. According to Google, it is defined as, “A systematic evaluation of the security of a company’s information system by measuring how well it conforms to a set of established criteria”. This applies the best when you are a part of the institution’s administration or just an employee. During the processes employees are usually interviewed regarding security roles and other relevant details.
On an end note, it is also a wise step for us to file a complaint with the FTC (Federal Trade Commission) and to the local police department in case of any fraudulent activities detected.