Hackers are like any other type of thief. They look for easy targets and take advantage of them. Are you an easy target in the eyes of identity thieves?
Let's assume that you've taken basic prevention steps, like using anti-virus software and securing your router to prevent hackers from getting directly into your system. Have you considered these other five ways to keep personal and account information safe?
1. Use Strong Passwords – Surely, you've moved past "password" or "12345678." The best passwords contain upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols – but how do you remember them?
Try inserting characters in regular patterns into names you'll remember. For example, if your dog's name is Rex, try "R!e@x#1$". See the pattern? Check your computer keyboard.
To make it easier, use the same basic pattern but add an identifier in front for different accounts. "AmR!e@x#1$" could be for Amazon, "ApR!e@x#1$" could be for Apple. You get the idea.
2. Use Two-Factor Authentication (TFA) – Two-factor authentication requires a second source of verification to access accounts or complete transactions. Typically, this is a one-time verification code texted to your phone that you immediately enter as confirmation.Not all sites offer TFA, so give preference to those that do.
3. Change Passwords and Don't Reuse Them – Even with precautions, hackers may still get your information through data breaches out of your control. If that happens, clever and unbreakable passwords are negated if you use the same one for all accounts or don't change them periodically.
It can be tough to recall a bunch of clever passwords. If you need help, consider a password manager program – or you can go old school and write your passwords down in a safe place. (By safe, we don't mean held to the refrigerator with a magnet.)
4. Credit Score and Credit Report Checks – Your credit score is a quick and simple indicator of changes in your credit status. Your credit report gives you details on the information that changed your score. You should check both regularly. You can check your credit score and read your credit report for free within minutes by joining MoneyTips.
Monitor your credit score constantly – it's your first indicator of issues with your credit. When there's an unexpected change in your score, get a copy of your credit report to determine why it changed. Look for errors and any signs of fraudulent charges or fraudulent accounts in your name.
5. Consider a Credit Freeze – You can now freeze and thaw your credit account for free. A credit freeze keeps anyone from accessing your account information to assess your creditworthiness.
If a lender can't see your records to assess risk, they won't loan you money or allow credit. You can't access the account, either – you must thaw (temporarily lift) the freeze when you want to apply for credit and re-apply the freeze when your request is complete.
Thieves may get your information from a data breach, but if they can't use the information to establish an account, it's of no use to them.
Hackers are working hard to steal your information. You need to work just as hard to keep your information private.
Make it difficult to access your information – and use it if it is accessed – and thieves will move on to easier targets. Given the huge number of data breaches, there will be many other replacement targets available.
Protect your credit – protect your identity – protect yourself with a free MoneyTips trial.