The way most online identity thieves acquire your private information is by making fake wi-fi hotspots or creating dummy shopping sites. When you are online shopping, make sure that you know the site, know the server and make sure the site looks real. Is there comments, reviews, photos of the products? Do they have a secure log-in space with functions to weed out automated bots? Is there a “Contact Us” section? Are there other reviews of the site online that you could be looking through? These are a few of the things you can look out for before you enter in all your payment information. In addition, do not log-in to a wi-fi network that you don’t know. If you are at public place using their wi-fi, make sure your firewall is in place and do not go shopping or pay bills while on a public server.
Shredding Sensitive Documents
Another way frauds get a hold of your financial information is by going through your trash. Yes, all those bank statements and credit card bills that you throw away without a second thought, people can go through your garbage, collect these documents and construct new accounts under your name. With a simple credit card application and a change of address form, they can begin using your name to make big purchases without you ever knowing about it. And you’ll be none the wiser, until you go to buy your dream house and your credit is very bad. Instead, tear up or shred those documents so they cannot be reconstructed.
Look Closely at Statements
Most people just do a cursory glance at their bank statements and then throw them away. But if you look closer you may be able to see the fraud. If you notice charges that you don’t remember making or the purchase location cannot be determined, you could have a problem on your hands. As stated earlier, many thieves use untraceable servers to steal money, so be sure that you can remember making any and all purchases on your account. Often, they will make small purchases, less than $10. The charges are so small so you’ll just brush it off as a coffee stop or snack break that you forgot. But when it happens a few times a week for a year, those charges add up. Sign up for online banking apps so that you can see your accounts at any moment as well.