It’s an aspiration of many to accumulate wealth and achieve financial stability. However, years of hard work and emotional, physical investment into saving can go for nothing the moment your financial information is stolen by an identity theft.
Identity theft does not stop at acquiring and buying stuff with your bank account but also acquires your personal information, such as name, date of birth, even social security number, to cause identity fraud. By getting loans and mortgages under your name, an identity theft can ruin every bit of your financial plan.
Before it’s too late, let’s start building the habits to successfully protect your personal financial information. Below, I have listed 7 habits you can employ to make yourself armed against such fraud.
1. Build a strong fortress
Every account you possess should be structured like an onion: the core personal information should be covered by many layers of protections. Install anti-virus software and make sure you update it as soon as possible. Also, don’t set the same passwords for every website and make sure you use none of your personal information, not even your name and birth dates, in making your account. Although many people skip this part for the sake of convenience, the identical accounts make you a very vulnerable potential victim. To make things easier, what about making a combination of words that come into your mind when you think of each website and set it as your password?
2. Beware of Facebook
Thank God we have all these social media to connect with friends overseas, and also next door. Just as easy as it is to access others’ personal information, it’s also easy to disperse our own personal information through the social media like Facebook. Do not share every detail, such as where you ate last night, whom you played with today in the morning, etc. Even exposing the name of your school, birthday, and whereabouts are not safe. Also, set your privacy setting in ways that your posts are shared only with your friends, not the general public.
3. Examine the website
Before you sign up or make online purchase, put some time into figuring out if the website is real and secure. There are some easy ways to distinguish the real ones from the fake ones: check the URLs, the web page addresses, and this should start with the letters “http://” . If the website is super secure, which means the user name and password is encrypted before sent to the server, it should display “https://”.
4. Secure your Wifi
Secure your home Wifi with passwords so that you can protect your home network and your personal information transmitted via the home Wifi. When you use free Wifi in a coffee shop, for example, make sure you clear all the personal information like passwords and social security numbers, in case you used them, before you leave the place.
5. Beware of Scams
Nowadays, a lot of people are aware of the scams sent not only through computer emails, but also through our phones. In fact, I see them almost every day. There’s even a comedy show made after some obvious scams. When you get a message, don’t click the content unless you carefully examine and research about the content. Don’t answer to phone calls with suspicious numbers.
6. Even Trash Can Carry Valuable Data
Many people carelessly throw their used papers and personal items into public garbage cans and this is really dangerous. Before you throw your trash, especially the receipt or mail, skim through it to see if there’s any personal information in it, and if there is, torn the parts with the personal data into several pieces. This will make it hard for the identity theft to track your information from your garbage.
7. Stay Close to the Bank
You better check your bank statements and credit card account activity frequently and on regular basis. If you detect anything weird or wrong, contact the bank immediately. The faster you spot the problem, the easier it is to solve and the lesser it is likely you encounter much problems.
Now you read the 7 Habits of Successful Personal Financial Data Protection, it’s time to put them into action. Remember that keeping your personal data in check is just as important as earning and saving money. Once you build these habits of being more cautious, you can make it much tougher for the identity theft to lay hands on you.