No one would knowingly volunteer to be a victim of fraud or identity theft. While you may do your best to keep your financial details safe, you could be unknowingly putting your identity at risk if you do any of these things.
Use the same password for all your online accounts. We have dozens of online accounts for everything from email to social media to bank accounts. Unfortunately, many people get lazy and simply use the same password for all their accounts.
Sure, it’s tough to come up with 20 different passwords, but using the same password for all your accounts is risky. If a hacker gets access to the password for one of your accounts, all of your accounts are at risk. It takes more effort, but it’s much safer to have a different password for your accounts, especially your financial accounts.
Set weak passwords that are easy to guess. Making your password something easy to remember like “password” or “abcd1234” or “guessme” is asking to be hacked. Hackers can guess these without much effort. Passwords that include your name, date of birth, or the names of family members are also easier to crack.
Set strong passwords that use a combination of upper and lowercase letters and at least one digit. Including a character in your password makes it even tougher to crack. Generally, longer passwords are stronger.
Send personal information over public WiFi. Using the free WiFi in your library or local coffee shop is convenient for basic internet browsing, but it’s not necessarily safe for doing financial business. Information you send over public WiFi may not be encrypted, which means that hackers who intercept the information can easily tell what you’ve sent. Hackers can get your username and password when you login to your bank account or your credit card information when you place online orders. Save your financial transactions for when you’re on a safe, secure, and trusted internet connection.
Fail to check your credit reports. Signs of credit card fraud and identity theft may first show up on your credit report. If you’re not paying attention to your credit reports, you could miss the opportunity to catch identity theft before it gets bad.
When suspicious credit inquiries or fraudulent accounts appear on your credit report, take action by placing a fraud alert on your credit report and disputing the fraudulent accounts with the credit bureaus. You can check your credit report for free once a year by going to AnnualCreditReport.com.
Even though many credit card issuers offer zero fraud protection and you typically won’t be held liable for accounts opened in your name, dealing with fraud is time consuming and a nuisance, to say the least. Taking a few steps to prevent fraud will save you the trouble of dealing with it later.