In the United States, fraud is big business. According to the Federal Trade Commission, consumers reported losing more than $5.8 billion to fraud in 2021, an increase of more than 70% from the previous year.
If there’s one thing you can bet on with money, it’s that someone somewhere wants to steal it. One of the most common methods used by criminals is to steal victims’ identities and financial information. As hackers develop new ways to gain into online financial accounts, this has become an increasingly serious concern.
To protect your identity and credit, you must be vigilant and understand how fraudsters operate. The first distinction you should make is between preserving your identity and protecting your credit. Here’s a basic overview:
Credit monitoring notifies you anytime there is action on your credit report. This often involves lender enquiries as well as new accounts opened in your name and utilising your Social Security number. Credit monitoring will notify you of any activity via text or email.
Chase Bank’s Chase Credit Journey is a standout credit monitoring service. You don’t have to be a Chase customer to utilise it, and it’s absolutely free. You simply sign up online, and this service monitors your identity and credit in a variety of ways, going beyond simple credit activity notifications to provide comprehensive protection. It searches the dark web for your information and notifies you if it is located on dubious sites, and it notifies you if your data has been compromised in a breach. Chase Credit Journey also safeguards your identification by monitoring behaviour associated with your Social Security number.
Identity Theft Warnings
Identity theft warnings are usually covered by credit monitoring services. They go a step further, however, by searching for evidence that your personal data, such as bank account passwords, has been accessed by hackers, data thieves, or cybercriminals. Credit cards are a very appealing target. If you think that your credit card information has been stolen or compromised, you should cancel the cards immediately and cease any activity linked with them.
6 Best Ways to Protect Your Identity and Credit
Taking preemptive efforts to protect your credit and identity is the equivalent of an ounce of prevention for a pound of treatment. The following are some of the most effective strategies for keeping your information secure.
1. Make it a habit to change your passwords.
This should be obvious, but it is something that many individuals fail to accomplish. Your password is the entrance to your financial and personal information, and the longer it remains untouched, the more likely it will be breached by hackers. Changing your password on a regular basis reduces the likelihood of your credit and identity being compromised.
2. Enroll in Credit Monitoring Alerts
Setting up credit monitoring alerts is one of the most crucial measures you can take to safeguard your credit. This alerts you anytime there is questionable activity on your account. While many credit card firms and financial organisations provide credit monitoring services to their consumers, a handful also provide services to non-customers.
Chase Credit Journey, for example, is a free credit monitoring service open to anyone who wishes to sign up. This comprehensive service notifies you anytime there is new activity, such as charges, credit queries, or new accounts. You will also be notified if your credit usage, credit restrictions, or balances change. Other options include tracking your Social Security number and receiving identity verification alerts when a lender validates your identification.
You’ll also be able to check your credit score online whenever you choose with Chase Credit Journey, giving you even more control over your credit.
3. Implement a Credit Freeze
A credit freeze, also known as a security freeze, prevents lenders from checking your credit history to start a new account. This can aid in the prevention of identity thieves opening accounts in your name.
4. Obtain Identity Theft Protection
Identification theft prevention services monitor your credit accounts continuously and tell you when your credit score changes, inquiries are made, or red flags regarding suspected fraud are raised. Many of these schemes also provide insurance to cover financial expenses incurred while repairing damage caused by fraud. ID theft protection programmes are available from credit bureaus, insurance companies, and third-party suppliers.
5. Safeguard Your Personal Information
It goes without saying that you should never give your personal or financial information to the incorrect people. Don’t give it to anyone or any company you don’t know and trust. Be wary of scammers posing as bank or credit card company workers and demanding your personal and financial information through the phone, social media, email, or text messages. Nobody who is real will phone you and ask for information such as your credit card PIN or Social Security number.
Identity thieves will utilise all means available to them to obtain your personal and financial information, including looking through your mail and even digging through your trash. Avoid leaving crucial documents including ATM or credit card receipts in plain sight.
6. Regularly review your credit reports
Your credit report contains a wealth of information regarding the kind of credit accounts you’ve had, your payment history, credit score, and credit limit. Because the report contains so much crucial information and plays such a significant role in your ability to obtain a loan or credit card, you should review it on a frequent basis to ensure that everything is correct and up to date.
When evaluating your credit report, look for items that don’t belong, such as an unfamiliar credit card or loan, or a sudden decline in your credit score despite no change in your credit activity. If you notice a new account you didn’t start or charges for transactions you didn’t make, it’s likely that a fraudster has accessed your accounts.