The recent Equifax breach where thousands of people’s personal information was compromised by hackers was just the latest in a growing trend. Our personal and financial information is more vulnerable than ever, with everything being stored digitally and sold between financial companies.
It can be difficult to safely handle your money online, especially when Equifax has basically left potential victims to fend for themselves. Now is the time to look for ways to avoid fraud and protect your credit. This can be done by being aware of your finances and potential threats to your security. Here are three ways to avoid fraud in the digital age.
Check Your Credit Report
You may know your credit score, but have you ever read your credit report? Knowing your credit score is helpful, but in order to find out if you are a victim of fraud, you must go through your credit report carefully.
Look to make sure that everything on the report is from you. Misspelled versions of your name and address may appear; these need special attention as they may be someone else with a similar name, may be a simple filing error, or may signify a case of identity theft.
Build Your Credit Wisely
Once you’ve checked your credit, you may realize that it is in need of improving. This is a task that takes time and attention, but it is not necessarily difficult to undertake if you know how to properly use your credit card to rebuild your credit score.
To do this, you will need to do some research to figure out how many credit cards you should have to maximize your credit. When getting new credit cards, choose ones from banks and well-known financial institutions, as they are required to take security measures with your financial information.
If you turn to a credit provider for help, thoroughly research them before submitting your information. Make sure you are using a legitimate company for help, and avoid payday loans. Only submit your private information to trusted sources; do not enter your social security number to get off credit offer lists.
Choose Financial Advisors Carefully
Many people turn to professional financial advisors to help them manage their money. If this is an option you are considering, be careful; when it comes to financial planning, titles matter. Certain professionals are required to act in your best interest, while others aren’t.
Certified public accountants, (CPAs), are paid by the hour and ultimately have your best interest in mind. Other financial advisors get paid on commission, based on how much you invest on their company. Currently, the fiduciary rule, designed to protect clients, is set to be instated at the beginning of 2018, though it may face delays.
This being so, financial advisors may put their interests and those of the company before their clients, so be aware of the credentials of who works with your finance information and what processes they go through.
The same is applicable to investing, banking, and filing taxes. Tax security is a major issue, which the IRS works to improve, but with every business and citizen required to file taxes, it can take a long time to discover inconsistencies and fraud.
Cybersecurity is not a question of who should do it, but how well you do it. Additional tips to remember include keeping up to date on recent scams, being careful of the information you keep on your phone, and setting strong passwords. It’s better to act before it’s too late and do what you can to avoid an unfortunate financial situation.