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Tips to Avoid Identity Theft in the Digital Age

Some criminals specialize in stealing personal information. Therefore, you have to protect your sensitive data. Financial institutions, such as banks, invest millions of dollars to protect your personal data but if don’t stay alert, you could fall victim to identity theft. Here are some tips to avoid identity theft and protect your information in the digital age.

tips to avoid identity theft

1. Use mobile banking apps.

The first of our tips to avoid identity theft is to use mobile banking apps. Mobile banking apps are becoming increasingly easy to use. Software developers strive to design better apps for everyone to make people’s financial lives easier. By using mobile banking, you are more protected against identity theft because in order to access your information on a banking app, you must enter a pin, password or your fingerprint to see any of your accounts. Digital platforms are much more safer than mail correspondence from you bank, given that mail that has your sensitive information can be stolen or lost.  An added bonus of going paperless is that it is also good for the environment!
Bonus tip: When you use your mobile banking app, make sure you are connected to secured Wi-Fi and not public.

2. Don’t provide personal information via text, phone, or email.

Not a single reputable financial institution will ask you to email or text your Social Security Number, date of birth, credit card number, and/or other personal information. The reason is simple: texts and emails are easy for criminals to access, which can lead to identity theft. Additionally, if you get a call from a strange number and the caller asks for your personal information, just hang up. When you do need to provide your bank with personal information, do so on a secured website. You can tell a website is secure if the URL starts with “https” rather than “http.”

3. Use a well-known browser.

Navigating with an unfamiliar web browser might put you at risk of information leaking. Instead, use familiar browsers like Internet Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, or Opera.

4. Update your operating system and antivirus.

We sometimes tend to neglect updating our devices and dismiss the updates as annoying or unnecessary. However, there is a good reason to update your system. These updates are important to protect your data. Next time you see there is an update pending, don’t hit “Ask me later!”

5. Don’t download or click suspicious email attachments.

Some emails can contain viruses and you may not even realize it. It’s not unusual for one of your contact’s email accounts to be hacked, triggering an email to be sent to their entire contact list. It might be under the name of your friend or relative, suggesting you click a link or asking you to check out the attachment. Even if your antivirus does not detect the threat, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Don’t click on any links or attachments from emails that you think might be suspicious.

If you struggle to pay off debt, ACCC can help. Call 800-769-3571 to speak to a certified credit counselor

ABOUT AUTHOR / Andi

Andi is a Marketing Assistant at ACCC. He is passionate about supporting financial literacy efforts and helping to educate people on the Talking Cents blog!

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