Thursday, November 17, 2016
Is Your Financial Data At Risk Of Theft?
How safe are your financial data and information? Or most people, it is hard to tell - we leave it to our banks to provide us with the vast majority of our financial security. There are a few things we can do ourselves, however - which are vital in this day and age. We’re going to take a look at some of the most common ways data thieves will try and steal your data - and how to protect yourself. Read on to find out more.
A growing threat
First of all, it’s vital to understand that your personal financial information is more at risk now than it has ever been. In fact, between 2005 and 2010, identity theft increased by 50%. According to Forbes, there are hundreds of millions of malware programs out there. The vast majority of them are created with the aim of trying to steal your personal information. It’s not something you want to happen to you. A data thief could ransack your bank account, or even use your identity for nefarious reasons. It could mean you have to spend a long time - possibly even years - trying to resolve the issues.
So, how can you stop the identity thieves stealing your personal data? The first thing you should consider is taking more care of your personal belongings. For example, how secure is your physical mailbox? Do you leave letters in your box for hours - or even days? If so, it’s at risk. A thief could easily snatch your letter’s at the drop of a hat, and get vital information about your affairs. You should also bear in mind that your garbage is just as big a target as your mailbox. Are you shredding your sensitive correspondence before putting it in the outdoor trash? Even the labels on your old medicine bottles could give people valuable information on your identity. Also, ensure you keep your wallet or purse close to you at all times. A bag snatcher or pickpocket could steal more than your spare change if they make off with your possessions. And if you keep your Social Security card or PIN in your wallet or purse, it’s making it incredibly easy for them. Finally, be aware that it isn’t just street thieves and common criminals you need to watch out for. The recent Wells Fargo scandal shows that even the banks could be acting in an inappropriate way.
Taking care in public
The sad truth is that you cannot trust anyone - or any location - when it comes to your personal data. Even using a credit or debit card in a store can be a dangerous act. For example, when you hand over your card to a store worker and they walk away with it, how can you ensure they are acting appropriately? If your card is RFID-enabled - or swipeable - a thief could use a handheld scanner to grab your personal info. And, of course, when it comes to withdrawing from the ATM, there could be eyes watching from a distance. And if a thief sees you enter your number, a simple bag snatch is all they need to empty your account.
Of course, part of the surge in data theft has been due to the widespread take-up of home computers and smartphones. Despite all the warnings, many people are still failing to give themselves even the most basic protection. There is no excuse for not securing your computers and gadgets without a robust password. You should also use firewalls, spam filters and antivirus software to keep your devices safe from harm. And, most importantly, keep those protections up to date. Finally, ensure that you only access sensitive accounts while at home, rather than on a public computer or Wi-Fi network. There is no way of knowing that the person sitting next to you is not a hacker.
Most online data breaches occur from the same mistakes. Clicking on dodgy links in an email can install malicious software on your computer. Using unsecured websites and paying for goods can lead to hackers stealing your credit or debit card. Even using weak passwords can lead an easy win for the data thieves. Set stronger passwords that use a combination of uppercase, lowercase, and numbers. Check the security details of any website you use for shopping. Finally, never click on suspicious links, and watch out for fraudulent emails landing in your inbox. It could lead to severe financial hardship.
Have you ever been the victim of financial data theft? Let us know about your experience in the comments section below!