Widespread use and access has made the online world an integral part of day-to-day life, often for the better. However, living life online does come with some risks. One of the most unsettling being the increased threat of identity theft. Identity theft has been a relatively common crime since the early 20th century and with the addition of bulk financial and personal information now at fraudsters fingertips the rate is even higher. What used to be a fairly niche crime has now spread like wildfire. It is likely that you know at least one person who has become a victim, at least in some small-scale way. Our goal is to help you avoid becoming that victim. So, in a digital world, how can you avoid identity theft?
If you’re a consistent online shopper, be sure that the sites you are shopping on are ones that you trust. When shopping for something from a site you have not used before then it is smart to do a bit of research before you make that purchase. Always look at user reviews. These can be a valuable resource when trying to determine the safety and integrity of an online vendor.
It is also important to use your intuition when shopping online. If something feels off, don’t risk it. There is a good chance it is not safe. Trust your gut. This can especially be applied for those sketchy emails you get that are trying to “sell” you something. Don’t even think about clicking on the links in those emails! They can be an effort to install malware onto your computer that will attempt to steal your financial information. By clicking on that link, you can start the catalyst for a malware install. Try your absolute best to avoid these tactics from fraudsters.
Use Smart Password Procedure
Be mindful of your passwords. It may be easier to have the same passwords for most accounts, but let’s face the facts. Ask yourself, “If someone found out one of my passwords, would he or she obtain access to all of my accounts?” Having some of the same passwords for accounts is okay, but try to have specific and hard-to-guess passwords for the most sensitive and protected accounts (i.e. your online banking information).
Use passwords with a variety of different characters. Use numbers, both lowercase AND capital letters, and other characters, symbols, you wouldn’t typically use organically. These are great safeguards to make your password harder to steal. Variation is key when it comes to password creation. Be extra safe and switch things up as much as possible; the more complex the better! Don’t forget to replace your password every six months for additional online privacy safety.
Guard Your Social Security Number
Your social security number is directly tied to access to your finances -- so give it out sparingly. If you are being asked for your social, but aren’t completely clear on why, ask! Most institutions (such as your credit union) may have legitimate reasons for asking for your social. However, if you are making a simple purchase over the phone or online, there is never any reason that your social security number would be needed. It is important to guard your social very carefully. Don’t carry your card around in your wallet unless you are certain you will need it! Instead, keep it in a place that you know is safe - like a safe (pun intended).
Keep An Eye on Your Finances
Being aware of the status of your finances can be a key part in sniffing out any unusual activity occurring with your account. Stopping an identity theft problem before it starts, or gets severe, is what you want to be able to do. Checking into your mobile banking will keep you on top of this. If you notice charges that you know you haven’t made, and aren’t attributed to your normal bills, contact member services immediately. Online banking is a handy tool for keeping a consistent eye on your finances! Also, if you haven’t enrolled in eStatements - enroll now here!
Trusting Your Financial Institution
When you open up an account with a financial institution, one of the things that you value and expect is a high level of safety and security for your money. At HRCCU, we not only understand that, we base everything we do around that value. We recognize and understand the importance of financial and personal security. Using a blend of enhanced authentication, fraud detection tactics, encryption, and IP monitoring, we make it our business to make sure that your money is safe.
If we suspect a breach, based on out of character spending, we’ll immediately notify you to make sure that it’s actually you spending your money. We value your financial security over everything else and we have the security standards to prove it.