It’s almost the end of 2023, and we live in a world where access to personal and financial information has become increasingly reachable, and where threats to your security are more present than ever as hackers grow stronger alongside technology. Regardless of your income level and what you have saved, everyone should be aware of how identity theft can harm your finances and your credit, and everyone should have a baseline knowledge of how to keep your personal and financial information safe and secure.
If you’ve fallen victim to online predators and hackers, it’s not too late to get a grasp on it and protect yourself, as well as recover from any harm done. Here are a few tips to get started:
Don’t wait – take action.
Don’t hesitate to take action as soon as you’re aware of your accounts being compromised. First, check your credit report; Credit Karma is one free website where you can check your credit scores and history to see if there are any red flags. Then, contact credit bureaus, including Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion; you can request to have them put a free fraud alert on your file if you’re concerned about potential harm. You can also request a security freeze if need be. After that, if you owe money to creditors or your credit union, contact them and keep them in the loop.
Change your passwords.
This is a key step, because changing your passwords on a regular basis is one of the strongest ways to prevent identity theft. If you find yourself stuck on creating a strong password, here are a few helpful hints:
- Make sure your new password is at least 12 characters – the longer the password, the more difficult it is to guess.
- Don’t use identifying information, such as: birthdays, anniversaries, previous addresses, pet names, maiden names, schools you’ve attended, or children’s names. Any good hacker can find this information online if you have public facing social media profiles.
- Use letters, numbers, and symbols for a robust password that can’t be easily guessed.
Take charge and be proactive in the future.
Even if you’re on top of your personal and financial information on a regular basis, it’s a good idea to brush up on those habits, and encourage them to your friends and family members. Make sure you’re checking your banking statement as well as your credit card statement; you’re more likely to take note of any fraudulent charges if you’re up to date on it. One of the easiest ways Polam members keep on top of their credit and debit card history is with E-Statements, which ensures members receive their statements regularly through our online and mobile banking services.