Online shopping and banking apps are making it simpler for consumers to manage their finances, but what happens when security breaches of those services lead to identity theft for their users? NBC News reports that online thieves caused over $16 billion in losses for consumers in 2017, a nearly 10% increase from the previous year.
If you are unsure about your personal risk factors for identity theft, start by learning what actions and habits can increase your chance of having your identity stolen so you can better protect yourself and your finances.
Using one password
If you are like many other Americans, you might use one password for multiple accounts. While having fewer passwords can make it easier for you to keep track of all of your logins, it also makes it easier for identity thieves to steal a variety of information, including your:
- Social Security number
- Bank account information
- Credit card numbers
Consider using a password generator and unique combinations for each account. Also avoid using dates that are simple to guess, such as your spouse’s birthday.
Social media posts
If you have one or more social media accounts, you may not give much thought to possible security breaches as you share information and photos with friends and family. However, giving away too many data clues may make you vulnerable to identity theft. Your pet’s name, your birthday and other information may allow cyber-criminals to impersonate you on sites and make purchases in your name. As you use social media, remember to employ all the security measures offered by each service.
Keeping all of your internet-connected devices updated and using secure messaging apps can also minimize your risk of identity theft. Those who believe that they are at risk should study their monthly bank statements carefully to ensure no fraudulent activity has taken place.