This is a guest post by Identity Research Specialist Toasha Jiordano
Most of us have heard the phrase “fraud and identity theft” a lot lately. But what exactly is it, and how can it affect your family? The terms fraud and identity theft are used when someone pretends to be you, for a variety of purposes including taking your money. They do not necessarily want to be you, and they don’t even have to be of the same sex as you. They just have to know how to use your personal information in order to get their hands on your money. And they do it very well it seems.
There have been millions of cases of fraud and identity theft throughout the world. One study by Meridian Research states that financial institutions will lose about $8 Billion to identity theft in the next year. And large corporations aren’t the only targets. They might be the bulls-eye, but you and your money are the rest of the dartboard. It sounds intimidating but there are a few things that you can do to protect yourself from identity theft online, where it’s most prevalent.
We all love to shop and with today’s technology, shopping is at your fingertips. However, with the ongoing issue of identity theft, how can we protect ourselves from cyber criminals when we are purchasing online? Here are a few things to consider when making your purchases online:
- Prepaid Gift Card. This is a great way to protect yourself from identity theft because it’s very close to anonymous. It’s also great because many teens are now running rampant on Ebay and Paypal. So to dole out a little cash here and there on a prepaid card that’s not tied to your bank account just makes perfect sense. The FDIC does insure your bank accounts up to a certain amount, but there’s no provision for theft or damages. Therefore your credit score is not FDIC insured.
- Secure Wireless. Most websites use Secure Socket Layers (SSL). It’s great technology for managing the security of message transmissions over the internet. Before adding your credit card information, check the site’s web address. If it begins with “https” instead of “http” then that site is using SSL technology. You can also look for a secure lock icon in most cases on located on the bottom of your internet browser. Many sites with a ‘cash register’ option will have this security feature, but it’s always safer to check first.
- Complaint Department. The Federal Trade Commission is there to help you with identity theft. But remember the numbers we stated earlier, $8 Billion for businesses alone. So the FTC is pretty tied up. Plus your $400 might not seem like such an emergency next to the billions that major corporations are crying about. Well, not an emergency to them. To you it’s the difference between making rent next month and sleeping in your car. Before that gets repossessed too. So you must take it upon yourself to be vigilant about protecting your money from identity theft. Protect now so you don’t have to cry later. Monitor your credit report for free with AnnualCreditReport.com to make sure there are no inconsistencies.
Protect yourself be extra cautious when giving out personal information online. There are services that monitor and protect your identity for you if all the this information may seem a little confusing or overwhelming. Agencies such as LifeLock (image link above) will monitor your identity and notify you if any suspicious activity is going on. Without an agency covering you, if your identity is compromised it may be good idea to close your accounts or change the passwords and pin numbers on all of your account(s) less you be a victim of fraud and identity theft.