Effective Ways to Defend Against Identity Theft
Identity theft may seem like a big, scary thing. We’ve all heard horror stories about some guy your neighbor knows whose life got hacked. It happens, but we are not powerless against it.
Here are three simple things you can do to defend against identity theft.
Keep Tabs on Your Accounts
First off, keep an eye out on your accounts. That means looking at your bank statement and your credit card statement. Read them line by line to see if there is anything that looks suspicious or out of place.
In fact, just before I wrote this episode I asked my wife about a charge to a restaurant we don’t go to. It’s near my wife’s office, so it’s not out of the question that she’d have gone there with her work friends, but I wanted to check. I asked and she confirmed that she had.
This is a simple step that can really help you out in the long run. Stay vigilant.
Next, set up monitoring and notifications for your accounts. My credit card has been hacked about half a dozen times. I was rolled up in the Target and Home Depot breaches for sure.
There was a period where my card was hacked 3 times in 4 years. And in those instances it was the credit card company that called me. They noticed that all of the sudden I had transactions in states that I don’t frequent and they notified me.
If it weren’t for that, it would have been later in the month before I caught the fraudulent transactions. And who knows how many more transactions they’d have gotten away with.
Lastly, use strong, unique passwords for all of your accounts. All of them. You can’t just have a strong password for your banking account and have “Password1234” as your email password.
Hackers can get into your email account and work their way around to your online bank account. It’s all connected so use strong passwords like full sentences with 25 or more characters. And if you have the option to use two step verification, do it. It’s a hassle, but it’s worth it if you can keep someone from messing up your life.
One last bit of information for you. I know there are a lot of Dave Ramsey people who like my show. I think Dave is great, but we disagree with him on one thing.
Consider a Credit Card
I suggest that you use your credit card when you can, but you pay the full amount off at the end of the month. (Like Dave says.) This offers an extra layer of financial safety in using the credit card.
If hackers get your credit card, then they can only mess with your credit and make fraudulent purchases. Most credit card companies write those off as doing business and your credit can be restored.
If hackers get your debit card, they get your money. And while your bank may be able to restore your account it may take 30 to 45 days for that to happen. I’d rather take a temporary ding to my credit than lose my money. And I can say this from personal experience.
For more check out my article What to do when Your Credit Card is Hacked