Protecting Your Credit and Your Identity | Credit Sesame
- Phishing is becoming more sophisticated and much more frequent.
- Watch out for red flags, such as being asked for your individual details over the telephone.
- Proactive steps to protect your identity include shredding documents with personal information and creating strong and various passwords for every account.
While phishing scams (when hackers pose like a trusted entity to acquire sensitive information like passwords and credit card numbers) and identity theft are a constant concern and becoming more sophisticated, it is even more essential in these uncertain times to safeguard your individual and financial information. We offer some tips for protecting your identity and credit during this time to help provide reassurance.
Red flags to watch for
First and foremost, you need to note that government agencies like the IRS, Medicare and Medicaid, social security, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, etc. rarely call consumers directly, and the government would rarely ask you for a fee of any kind over the phone.
Bad actors are preying on consumers' fears and anxiety over COVID-19. Even when a legitimate charity contacts you, don't give any information over the phone. Look them on Charity Navigator, a website that ranks charities, and then contact the charity directly. Additionally, legitimate media outlets could also provide a listing of charities with direct links to their respective websites.
Below are examples of red flags:
- Someone contacts you and threatens you in some way if you do not comply immediately
- You are asked to give money and/or private information.
- You are inspired to provide your computer password.
- You are asked to have a COVID-19 test but be forced to pay first online.
- The communication and/or website looks suspicious (i.e. you don't know the email address or URL, they are asking you for money or personal information, etc.).
Proactive steps to safeguard your credit and identity
Following are some steps you can take to proactively protect yourself as well as your credit:
- Shred documents you no longer need that contain any private information such as your social security number, street address, bank information, etc.
- Be extremely wary when disclosing any personal information or perhaps your social security number and only do so if absolutely necessary.
- Read your mail promptly such as credit card, healthcare, and bank statements, etc. to make sure things are correct and there are no surprising charges.
- Proactively monitor your accounts often to ensure all information is true.
- Place security freezes and subscribe to fraud alerts.
- Create strong and different passwords for every account, and employ a safe and secure password manager to help keep track of your passwords.
- Set your social networking sites to personal or friends-only to prevent connecting with someone you do not know.
- Run anti-virus software.
- Monitor your credit.
- If you believe your identity continues to be compromised, move quickly to protect yourself; set up fraud alerts and contact the institution related to the theft.
For more details on the ten steps above, click the link.
Credit Sesame offers free credit and identity theft protection and monitoring for all customers.
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