No, this can't happen to you!
That's what we all say until you pull up to the drive-thru at your local bank and find out that the ATM says your account is overdrawn or maybe you have looked at your credit card statement and find numerous charges on it that you didn't make.
Identity theft is rampant today. Not only do you have to be vigilant and protect your identity, but you also have to look at the telltale signs that are your identity has been hacked.
Once someone gets in...
It's very difficult to get them out of your system, unless you wipe the hard drive totally clean or buy a new computer.
Watch out for this one: if you suddenly get 500 emails in a half an hour, you have probably been hacked, and you need to secure your bank accounts immediately.
The emails are used as a distraction, so that you will miss the confirmation email of an e-Transfer that has been debited from your account. How do I know? That's the method that they have tried to use on myself on a couple of occasions!
Hundreds of thousands of people across North America have had their identities or personal information stolen, and that number increases every year with online shopping numbers going through the roof. And now, when you add a pandemic in the mix, forcing people to get goods and services online, it becomes an absolute field day for those that make a living through online fraud.
So how does someone steal your personal information?
Most of us are naturally trusting. We hold ourselves to a certain standard of behavior, and we expect that others will do the same.
We all know that stealing is wrong, You and I wouldn't dream of trying to open a bank account or apply for a credit card with fake information. Unfortunately, there are people out there who do not want to steal your information. They want to assume your financial identity.
Thieves, probably, come in all shapes and sizes. It can be from organized crime to the kid next door, so there are many ways that your information can be stolen. They might sift through your garbage or even your recycle bin. The sophisticated ones will hack into your computer and get your passwords and logins.
Should they find a way in, they will do their very best to pretend that they are you somehow. They may get a keystroke monitor added to your laptop. They will continue to monitor keystrokes either manually or by the computer until they can figure out what's your password is to get into your bank account.
They will even have the audacity to mask your IP address, so it looks like you originated the transaction from your own computer!
How can you protect yourself from identity theft?
The good news is that protecting yourself is simple, and there are many effective ways to protect your financial and personal information from falling into the wrong hands.
1. Keep it safe.
Keep your vital records like bank statements, birth, social security numbers, and other personal information in a very safe place, using a locking file.
2. Have you considered leasing a safety deposit box?
They are still around, and fees are reasonable to keep some of your most important information in a very safe place!
3. Is your mailbox lockable?
In rural neighborhoods and also older neighborhoods in the city, the mail is still delivered on foot and put into a mailbox that rarely has a lock on it. If this is your situation, you need to change the mailbox into one that is lockable.
4. What do you do with that pre-approved credit card that comes in the mail?
Please it's like gold to a thief. It needs to be shredded immediately. Especially, if you aren't going to take advantage of the offer, it's a good idea to have a small shredder in your home to make sure an email that has your name, address, account numbers, or other personal information is destroyed.
5. Shopping online now is actually safer, but also can be more dangerous at the same time.
Never shop with a vendor that doesn't offer a secure payment method. Don't respond to emails that ask for personal information, even if they appear to be from your bank or financial institution.
6. Change your password on a regular basis.
This will keep thieves guessing for a while if your computer has been hacked with a keystroke monitor.
7. Contact your bank and use the latest methods they have to help combat online fraud.
To stay ahead of the online hacking community, banks are using various methods for double and triple verification before they will let money be transferred out of your account.
Thieves now have to go where the money is, and that money is now no longer physical but is traveling through the air and wires. The only way to protect yourself in the future is by being diligent about your information and the people and places you choose to do business with, especially online.
Protecting yourself with a good property insurance policy is one of the easiest and most economical ways to get identity theft protection. Identity theft is usually an ad on to your property policy. This will cover you for fraud and it will help to restore your good name.
Don't take it for granted. This threat is real and has increased exponentially almost like the virus.