These days you can never be too careful when it comes to being online, and identity theft protection is at the top of the list. Whether you’re checking your bank accounts or buying something for your home, there’s always the potential of a cyber thief lurking in the shadows, waiting to steal your personal and financially sensitive information.
Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes plaguing the nation, if not the world. And there are no signs it’s letting up, despite stepped-up efforts to increase security. But there are identity theft protection steps you can take to protect yourself from thieves as they prowl for bank account and credit card information, Social Security numbers and more.
Here are some identity theft protection tips to guard yourself from online crime:
- Change passwords at least once a month. And use strong passwords that include a combination of numbers, letters and symbols.
- Monitor your financial activity frequently. Experts recommend checking your bank account online at least once a week, and preferably more often. The same goes for credit card and debit card activity, especially if you use your cards on a regular basis.
- Avoid saving passwords on your computer, tablet or smart phone.
- Do not use personal information when choosing usernames, passwords or answers to security questions, especially if this information can be easily found by others online, such as on a Facebook page.
- Never share passwords or PINs with others.
- Log off of your computer when not in use and close your browser and sensitive apps before going offline.
- Password-protect your Wi-Fi service at home.
- Don’t open e-mails or attachments from unknown sources, since these are ways cyber thieves use to access information on your computer.
- Be on the lookout for suspicious or unauthorized charges, no matter how small. In fact, cyber criminals who have access to accounts will often try to “sneak” small transactions by victims to see if they’re paying attention to their account activity. If they aren’t, the thieves will pursue more big-ticket purchases that could cost you hundreds of dollars.
- Don’t use a public computer or public Wi-Fi to review credit card activity, make credit card or other bill payments, or access your financial institution’s website for online banking.
- Install and/or update anti-virus software on your computer.
- Secure your desktop computer, laptop, tablet and mobile phone with passwords.
More information about identity theft protection methods is available on the U.S. Computer Emergency Readiness Team website (an official site of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security) by clicking here.