Have your financial information been compromised? 6 Things to do

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have your financial information been compromised? 6 things to do

One of the most common crimes is now stealing personal information. Cyber crime is growing at an alarming rate. Hackers are stealing consumers’ financial information and grabbing their money using technology.

According to a 2017 Identity Fraud Study conducted by Javelin Strategy & Research, "$16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers in 2016, compared with $15.3 billion and 13.1 million victims a year earlier. In the past six years, identity thieves have stolen over $107 billion."

The stats are quite scary as losing personal information can cost you dearly. It not only costs you money, but also affects your credit score negatively.

Well, instead of worrying, you should take actions to protect your personal information.

Here 6 things to do if your financial information has been compromised

1 Review your financial account and credit report to find out suspicious activity

You should review your financial information and credit report time to time.

Identity theft expert and consultant Robert Siciliano, CEO of IDTheftSecurity.com, has said that "The most effective way to keep tabs on all of these accounts is to regularly check them via your monthly statements, via online portals as often as you'd like via mobile applications if they are provided”.

Make sure everything on your financial account and credit report is as expected.

Don't forget to check your bank statements. You can get a free credit report from all the 3 major credit bureaus every year.

Keep tabs on the financial information to make sure nothing bizarre is there.

2 Install identity theft monitoring app

To confirm that no one has opened or checked your account on your behalf, you can consider free identity theft protection.

You can sign up for identity theft monitoring app.

There are many apps available online like LifeLock, IdentityForce, and ID Watchdog are popular identity theft monitoring apps you can use to protect your personal information.

3 Change passwords and PIN regularly to avoid identity theft

Make sure you change the password and PIN associated with all your accounts at regular intervals.

How to secure passwords on your computer
  • Give a complex password, which is difficult to hack.
  • Don't save passwords on your computer.
  • Avoid accessing unauthorized network especially while doing financial transactions.

4 Consider a credit freeze or fraud alert

The CFPB (Consumer Financial Protection Bureau) has offered many fraud alert tools that are good to protect your financial information.

The government wants to help consumers to avoid fraud. These tools are known as initial fraud alert, extended fraud alert, and credit freeze.

If you want to set up an initial fraud alert or extended fraud, you need to write a letter to the three credit reporting agencies to get started. You can also check their website to get more information related to it.

You can also freeze your credit.

By freezing your credit you can completely prohibit the release of your credit report to all lenders.

Freezing an account can be a good way to stop anyone from hacking your important personal information.

However, setting up a credit freeze is a big decision. However, to set up a credit freeze, you need to pay a certain fee of $5 - $410. The fees vary from one place to another.

5 File a police report for identity theft

If your sensitive information has been stolen, you should file a police report. They will take necessary actions against the fraud.

If you find any unauthorized account is opened in your name, try to gather as much documentation as you can against this unauthorized fraudster.

It will help you prove that you never racked up those debts or charges.

6 Inform the credit card company about the fraud or theft

If you find suspicious charges on your accounts, inform the company as soon as possible.

Also, let the respective company know that your card has been stolen. The company will close or block the number and also issue you a new card.

Manisha Thakor, Director of Wealth Strategies for Women at Buckingham Strategic Wealth, has said that " If it’s a credit card, your liability is limited if you let the company know right away, which means you won’t be liable for those fraudulent charges. If it’s a debit card and someone actually takes money out of your account, it can take longer to get those funds back, making credit cards ironically ‘safer’ in some respects than debit [cards] in an era of widespread identity theft”.

How can you freeze your account to avoid suspicious activity?

Most of the people think that freezing an account is a complex process; they scare to freeze their card. Freezing the account is a simple way and probably the best way to stop hackers to see your credit information.The good thing is you can still maintain your credit score.

So, don't worry. Here's how you can freeze your credit files:

Send a mail to Equifax

You need to write a mail requesting a free credit freeze.

Mention your name, address, Social Security Number (SSN) and date of birth. Mail your request through a registered mail to the Equifax address mentioned below. You can also apply for the credit freeze online.

Lastly, I want to mention that to avoid becoming a victim, you should also keep a close eye on your accounts and financial information.

Mark Testoni, the president of SAP National Security Services has said,"Consumers should remain calm and be cognizant of their personal credit report and activity. Check for notifications to see if new credit applications have been filed on your behalf, and monitor your accounts for the adverse action. If your details are circulated on the black market, the big risks are fraudulent credit applications on your behalf and bad actors trying to find ways to take advantage of your personal [data].

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