Every so often, it makes the news. We hear an awful story about some low-life, financial hacker stealing someone’s identity or breaking into a corporate credit card data base. It’s one of those things that never happens to you—until it happens to you. Privacy breaches are happening all around us. Even if we haven’t personally experienced it, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of, “Oh maaan” later on! We’d like to offer some simple things you can do to protect your finances.
First, it’s important to know that identify theft impacts over 15.3 million people a year in the U.S. and over half of it happens through bank accounts. Hackers have stolen $112 billion in the past six years, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s latest study on identity fraud. That comes out to $35,600 per minute — or the price of a college education in about the time it takes to microwave popcorn! “With online banking becoming so ubiquitous, people view their statements online and engage in more and more transactions online, which all has inherent risk,” says Eva Casey Velasquez, president of Identity Theft Resource Center (Fortune, How to protect your finances from cyber hackers).
If you use a credit or debit card, bank online, or make any kind of electronic financial transaction, you face some risk that your personal information or money could be stolen; and that’s pretty much everyone. Take these precautions seriously. Even small steps like these can save you big:
- Change your username and passwords. I know, I know, everybody says that first, right? Who wants to go in and change all their passwords? — nobody. The best advice we can give is to at least evaluate and update your password for financial sites like your bank, brokerage firm, or anywhere you make a transaction. If you can’t remember the eight letters, numbers, and symbols (not forming an actual word in the dictionary), go ahead and download a password manager app to store all of your passwords more securely. You’ll obviously need to remember at least that one password.
- Look more closely at your bank statements. Take the extra time to scroll through transactions. Don’t just look at the big numbers, look at every transaction. Thieves run small transactions to test drive your information and if it’s valid they go further. If you don’t recognize the transaction ask yourself, “Did I buy this, when and where”? You may even need to call your financial institution and get more detail on a specific transaction. As an added layer of protection, sign up for any alerts or balance notifications that will help you monitor if and when your balance goes out of whack.
- Review all transactions on your credit card statements and reports. The same rule applies here. Can you believe roughly one-fourth of people have been victims of credit card fraud? Yet only one in five of us even go through our statements to check transactions (so we’re guessing that number is even higher). Making this a habit protects your identity and also gives you an opportunity to evaluate where your money goes. It just makes sense.
- Shred your financial documents. We may be stating the obvious here, but how many of us toss our financial documents in the trash without thinking twice? Bad move. Dumpster diving is alive and well. It’s easy to buy a portable shredder or locate a shredding company near you. If you want even better security for your statements, go paperless and password-protect your computer and email accounts.
Online banking comes with its own set of risks, but most identity theft issues can be prevented if you’re vigilant about the details of your accounts. Of course, you could avoid using the banking system altogether and become your own bank. Yes, we know a way. It’s called the Perpetual Wealth Strategy and it’s been around for over a century! This system leverages a uniquely designed participating insurance policy as a tool for funding your large purchases, growing your wealth, and leaving a legacy for your family.
We invite you to take 2 minutes to sign up for a FREE, extensive eCourse called Infinite 101®. You’ll receive access to video tutorials, articles, and podcasts. It literally costs you nothing to become educated on this ideal financial strategy and start building wealth.
Q: What are the four things individuals can do to protect their financial identity?
A: To protect their financial identity, individuals can regularly monitor financial statements and credit reports, use strong and unique passwords for online accounts, exercise caution with personal information online, and consider identity theft protection services for added security.
Q: How does regularly monitoring financial statements and credit reports contribute to identity protection?
A: Regular monitoring allows individuals to detect unauthorized transactions and suspicious activity early, reducing the risk of financial losses due to identity theft.
Q: Why is using strong and unique passwords crucial for online security?
A: Strong passwords are essential for online security, making it difficult for hackers to access accounts and ensuring personal information remains safe.
Q: How can identity theft protection services enhance financial identity security?
A: Identity theft protection services offer additional layers of security by monitoring personal information and providing alerts in case of suspicious activity, offering peace of mind and proactive protection.