It’s hard to stay on top of the situations cyber thieves use against us sometimes. But there are a few ways you can take matters into your own hands and be on defense. A variety of tasks from managing junk email to monitoring accounts with the IRS can help reduce the risk of fraud. Here are ten free and easy ways to limit your data exposure.
Opt-Out of Junk Mail
Usually found in the information at the bottom of an email lies the “Opt-Out” option. Opting-out should prevent further emails from the sender and prevent spreading your email information to other spammers and data thieves. Whether it’s an unwanted email in your inbox or “junk mail” in your home mailbox, always opt-out. The Federal Trade Commission offers two options to opt-out of junk mail offers on its website: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/.
Social Media Lite
Never post actual birth dates and other personal information on social media. Don’t include photos of identifying addresses, such as pictures of your home, car with license plate visible, or anything else a cyber thief can use to identify you. Always use the opportunities social media sites give you to further your security.
Use the IRS
Monitor your account with the IRS. Credit monitoring services don’t have access to the IRS database and may miss important facts. Ask for your IRS transcript electronically or by mail. It helps monitor your financials and with finding things like a bogus tax return you didn’t file.
Create a Secret Email
Use a secret and separate email address for extra security. Create one for only friends and family members to know. Always be aware that as tight of a circle you hope this secret email address is, it can inadvertently spread to others. That’s because when someone includes you in a group message, your email can be shared with someone you may not have specifically intended.
Keep Credit Card Info Offline
We can’t even count how many businesses have been hacked over just a few years. Never keep your credit card information stored on a seller’s website. It’s an accident waiting to happen. Take a few extra minutes to re-enter it every single time you make a purchase.
Be Stingy with Personal Information
When shopping with brick and mortar retailers, there’s no need for them to ask for any of your information. Not even for a phone number or zip code. That info provides ammunition for receiving even more junk emails and snail mail. Get creative and make them up if necessary.
Say “No” to Surveys
Online or on the street. The information you give can be, and likely is easily sold to marketing and other questionable sources.
Alerts, Alerts, Alerts!!
Take advantage of every bank, credit card, and other offers for sending you free alerts. These alerts can stop unauthorized use of your financial information.
Buy Online with Your Phone
It may not be fast or fancy, but it does provide another security layer. Phone calls with retailers are recorded, which may provide another level of security if needed.
Don’t Enter Sweepstakes and Give up Your Information
Don't provide information to enter sweepstakes contests. It's very unlikely you'll win the prize. It's highly likely your information will be sold and/or be used to spam you.
If you’re looking for more protection against identity theft, you can take advantage of our Identity Theft Recovery Services which includes services that can help if you’ve been a victim of identity theft. You can also stay informed with your account activity by setting up account alerts through My Fianancial Partner, our free, online personal financial management tool.
Information provided by Stickley on Security, Inc.