In this age of information, we’ve all heard stories about identity theft and how rampant it has become. Recent stats and studies on identity theft crimes found that data pirates are becoming increasingly sophisticated by gaining access into poorly secured accounts. By doing this, they are gaining even more access into important segments of the victim's financial life.
Traditionally, criminals would steal and sell bits and pieces of your personal information. These days, they're taking over multiple accounts at a time and stealing everything, including your name, address, and Social Security number.
With regard to credit cards, issuers have widely adopted sophisticated chip-card technology. But this hasn't stopped the thieves. Instead, they've shifted to online transactions and continue to get savvier, often opening new accounts as a means of compromising those accounts consumers already have.
So, the logical question as we move into a new phase of fraud: How can you protect yourself?
Here are some tips to help you stay secure.
Use two-factor authentication: This practice is already in place at UHCU in which banks and brokers commonly ask you to verify your identity by receiving a text message or phone call when you use a new device to sign in. If this method is offered anywhere else, take it.
Encrypt and password protect: Treat your mobile devices with the same care that you use to guard your desktop or laptop. Secure them with passwords, security software and encrypt any stored data.
Freeze or lock: If you're not planning to apply for new credit anytime soon, consider freezing your credit reports with the three major bureaus. This will halt any new credit being opened in your name.
Alerts: Always sign up for alerts. Many more companies allow consumers to put alerts on their accounts when transactions exceed a certain dollar amount, which could allow you to spot fraud before it got out of control.
Limit social media sharing: Using Facebook, Instagram and other social media sites is a great way to keep up with friends and family. However, thieves often find helpful personal information on these sites for purposes of identity theft. It's best to keep your profiles private and make sure you know each contact personally.
No single measure is 100% guaranteed to keep you 100% safe. But by following multiple tactics, you’ll be able to carry on with peace of mind.
If you think you have been a victim of identity theft regarding a UHCU account or loan that you have, please call United Heritage Credit Union at 800.531.2328.