As you may (or may not know), the 5 most common types of cybercrimes are:
- Medical Identity Theft
- Social Media Threats
So how do you prevent yourself from falling into a phishing trap that can irreparably damage your financial data?
When a criminal gets hold of your information, damage can be done throughout all segments of your life – especially your credit. When your data is compromised, a hacker can access your financial accounts (withdraw money), steal your identity (open accounts in your name), and take other actions that could affect your credit reports and credit score. There are a number of steps you can take to help stop this from happening and to keep the hands of thieves out of your personal business.
Stay Cautious and Aware
Always exercise caution when receiving unsolicited emails or visiting websites you’re unfamiliar with. If you’re unsure if the email is safe or if you feel the website asks you for information that makes you feel uncomfortable, do online research until you feel secure with the communication. In addition, never download an application that hasn’t been verified by an official, trustworthy store or company.
Antivirus is key
You’ve probably heard it hundreds of times: “Use an antivirus program and keep it updated.” After a while it starts to sound mundane, but today, more than ever, it’s the key to keeping the credit data on your computer safe. Most anti-virus/anti-malware programs scan files for ransomware and malware before they’re downloaded. They can also block secret installations from malicious ads while browsing the Internet. That is why it is important not only to have antivirus software on your computer but also to keep it updated so that your defenses are current. Of course, always keep your firewall activated.
Update the updates
We get it, updates can be annoying, but they’re necessary. Software updates for the programs you run are often released in order to fix vulnerabilities that can easily be manipulated to install ransomware. So, when you get that notification to install updates, install them. Ignoring it could create repercussions you really don’t want to experience.
Keep credit card info personal
It’s best not to store your credit card information on a website for “faster checkout” the next time you’re making a purchase. If that website is hacked or the database is insecurely “dumped”, you could find your credit card numbers in the hands of cybercriminals.
Make your Wi-Fi less vulnerable
Make certain to secure your Wi-Fi with a secure password, WPA2 encryption, double-up on firewalls, turn off guest networks and keep your router firmware updated. Moreover, never use public Wi-Fi for financial transactions or the transmission of personal information. Public networks are simply too vulnerable.
Credit Protection/Identity Protection Services
There are a number of services offered by reputable companies (including myFICO) that provide credit and identity protection through consistent monitoring of personal information. If any of your information becomes altered or compromised, these services alert you so that you can take immediate action. Do your research and select the one that works best for you.
In this day and age, always be aware of the websites and services that you are using. Cyber-attacks on companies are becoming more common. Do your part in helping yourself and community against these attacks.
If you’d like to learn more about the different kinds of identity theft and ways to help protect yourself and your family, read up on it at myFICO. It’s also a big topic on the myFICO forums … see for yourself.