Nonprofit credit counseling agency shares do’s, don’ts for protecting
online security, preventing identity theft
PHOENIX–(BUSINESS WIRE)–The past few years have seen a huge surge in data breaches and identity
theft. In addition to major breaches of high-profile corporations, a
study from Javelin Strategy & Research reported that a new case of
identity fraud occurred every two seconds in the United States last year.
“Everyone is aware of the problem, but many people feel powerless when
it comes to keeping their identities safe from criminals,” said Mike
Sullivan, a spokesperson with Take
Charge America, a national nonprofit financial education and credit
counseling agency. “Thieves are getting smarter, but at the same time,
consumers don’t realize that many of their online behaviors are putting
their IDs at risk.”
Sullivan offers the following tips to help consumers ensure their
financial safety online:
Keep personal information personal: Don’t give out your Social
Security number or financial account details to an organization you
don’t trust – and never to someone who calls or emails you to verify
your personal information. Financial institutions don’t solicit this
information in an unsecured manner.
Safeguard your computer. Install a personal firewall and an
up-to-date software security package.
Don’t click on links from unknown sources. Clicking on a
suspicious link in a text or email may install malware on your device,
giving thieves access to sensitive information stored there.
Be careful where you log on. Don’t access financial accounts or
shop online when using unsecured Wi-Fi. A secure website will start
with “https://” instead of “http://,” and your status bar will show a
padlock or key icon. When you’re done, log out completely.
Don’t be too social. Be careful about what you post on your
social networks to protect yourself from “doxing,” a tactic hackers
use to gather personal information from a variety of Internet sources
in order to hijack identities.
Be smart with your smart phone. Protect it with a passcode
that’s difficult to guess. If you’re in the market for an upgrade,
wipe your old device before turning it in or selling it to someone
Take advantage of alerts. Opt-in to text or email alerts when
your bank account reaches a minimum balance, purchases exceed a
predetermined limit, or your card is used in an unusual locale.
Get a free credit report. Review your report each year at annualcreditreport.com
to ensure your credit history is accurate.
Report fraud immediately. If you suspect your identity has been
stolen, contact the Federal Trade Commission at consumer.gov/idtheft
or call 1-877-IDTHEFT (1-877-438-4338).
For more financial tips, visit Take
About Take Charge America, Inc.
Founded in 1987, Take Charge America, Inc. is a nonprofit agency
offering financial education and counseling services including credit
counseling, debt management, student loan counseling, housing counseling
and bankruptcy counseling. It has helped more than 1.6 million consumers
nationwide manage their personal finances and debts. To learn more,
or call (888) 822-9193.
Andrea Aker, 602-339-7339