How To Protect Personal Information From Fraudsters

Written by Banks Editorial Team
3 min. read
Written by Banks Editorial Team
3 min. read

The internet is ripe with cyber thieves awaiting the perfect opportunity to hijack your personal information and other sensitive data. And if they’re successful, you could find yourself in the midst of a financial mess that seems impossible to get out of. Fortunately, there are ways to protect your personal information from fraudsters, which you’ll learn more about in this guide. 

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What Is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a term used to describe an incident that involves someone stealing your personal information and committing fraud, according to USA.gov. This could be in the form of unauthorized purchases, fraudulent credit applications, or tax filings, resulting in significant credit and financial damage that can be challenging to recover from. 

What Personal Information Should You Protect?

You’ll want to protect as much personal information as possible. Remember that you’re at a greater risk of falling victim to identity theft if your Social Security number, bank account numbers, debit card or credit card numbers, personal identification numbers (PINs) or passwords are exposed. Still, you want to take the necessary steps to secure your date of birth, mother’s maiden name, address, and phone number. 

How To Protect Your Personal Information

These best practices will help shield your personal information from fraudsters. 

Have Strong Passwords

A rule of thumb is to use different passwords for your accounts. It’s equally important that you create strong passwords that incorporate a blend of lowercase letters, uppercase letters, numbers and special characters. But they shouldn’t include any personal details, like your birth date, that make them easy to figure out.

You’ll likely have trouble remembering all those unique passwords. Still, you can use a password manager or some other password management tool to store them in a safe place. Also, opt-in to two-factor authentication if it’s available. You’ll be prompted to enter a unique four or six-digit code sent to you by text when you sign in to your accounts online. 

Set Your Security and Privacy Settings

Are you a frequent user of social media? Be sure to review your security and privacy settings often and ensure your posts and photographs are only visible by your connections and not the general public. 

Also, check to see what other apps connected to your profile are permitted to share on your social media profiles. This information should also be limited to ensure your safety while online. 

Limit What You Share on Social Media Sites

It can be tempting to provide an up-close and personal look at your everyday life or a glimpse of unforgettable personal experiences on social media platforms. But there’s a problem with this approach. If you inadvertently post your location, it could give thieves the greenlight to burglarize your home. 

While this isn’t necessarily a cyber threat, it’s still worth considering. If a thief gets their hands on any personal information, credit cards or documents, they could use it to commit cyber theft. 

Experian Free Credit Score

Experian Boost is a free service that allows you to add eligible, on-time payments to your credit report, potentially increasing your credit score.

Close Dormant Online Accounts

Instead of letting accounts you no longer use sit idle, login in and close them. This prevents any personal information stored from landing in the wrong hands due to a cyber-attack or company-wide security breach. 

Be Careful with Public Wi-Fi

Free public Wi-Fi networks are a major plus if you’re always on the go. Whether you’re at a coffee shop, event or running errands, you can surf the web without using up loads of your mobile data. But don’t let this added convenience put your private information in harm’s way. Use it with caution on your mobile devices. Never share personal data, log in to your bank or credit union’s website, make purchases or conduct any other form of business over a shared network. Otherwise, you risk becoming a victim of identity theft. 

Beware Of Personal Privacy Scams Like Phishing

Phishing is perpetrated by scammers in an attempt to capture sensitive personal information. For example, you could receive an email from an entity claiming to be your bank and requesting that you reset your password due to a security breach. The moment you select the link and input your information, it’s now in the hands of scammers. Or you get a call from your credit union requesting your Social Security number and other information to access your account that was supposedly victimized by a fraudster. 

The idea is to convince you that the entity contacting you is legit. But you can steer clear of online personal privacy phishing scams by using reputable sites that are secured or initiating contact before providing sensitive information. 

Consider Additional Protection

There’s no way to guarantee that your personal information won’t be compromised. However, purchasing additional protection can give you peace of mind knowing you’ll be covered in the event of an identity theft incident. 

Experian, the largest credit bureau in the nation, offers two forms of coverage to lend a helping hand: 

  • IdentityWorksSM Plus: includes identity protection, dark web surveillance, identity theft insurance of up to $500,000, access to a U.S.-based fraud resolution specialist, lost wallet assistance, identity theft monitoring and alerts, Experian credit lock, Experian credit monitoring and alerts, daily Experian FICO-score updates, additional auto home and bankcard FICO scores and access to the FICO Score Simulator. Prices start at $9.99 per month for one adult.
  • IdentityWorksSM Premium: get all the perks that come with the Plus plan, plus identity theft insurance of up to $1,000,000, three-bureau credit monitoring and quarterly three-bureau FICO score updates for a monthly fee of only $19.99 for one adult.

Both coverage options offer plans that include another adult and/or up to 10 children. Keep in mind that both options come with a free 30-day trial so you can test drive the service. 

Visit Experian.com to get their IdentityWorksSM plan or sign up today and learn more about their other product offers. You can also view your credit report or score for free with a CreditWorksSM Basic account, even if you decide an IdentityWorksSM plan isn’t right for you.

Experian

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