Top 5 Tips to Combat Identity Theft
Oh, the accessibility of the digital age! Smart devices have made online credit card purchases, banking and bill-pay a breeze. But where we find convenience, cyber burglars can find opportunity. In 2016, 10% of people age 16 and older had been victims of identity theft during the previous year, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.1 Anyone could become a scam victim.
If you are a habitual caller ID watcher, I salute you! Not all phone calls from an unknown number are bad, but they should make you think twice. The Federal Trade Commission reports that phone calls are the top scamming choice of fraudsters.2 Practice some assertiveness to stay safe.
Tip: For more information about debt-collection scams and tips on how to identify a fraudulent phone call, visit our Security Center.
Who doesn’t like to check out which celeb looks most like you, answer “get to know me” quizzes on social media or let people know what great adventure you’re on? But within those quizzes and posts you could be providing personal info that could help cyber thieves. Sharing personal info such as your full name, birthdate, home address, credit card and bank account numbers can make identity theft very easy. So be super careful with the information you let loose.
It’s a pretty good assumption that you have more than one account password. As keys to your sensitive info, those passwords should be safeguarded so you can better protect your identity and information.
When you throw out bills, mail or even prescription bottles without shredding the info, you could be providing prime clues to identity thieves. A truncated account number, bank name and some private info can be searched to find enough information to open accounts in your name.4 Boom, identity stolen! You would be amazed what a fraudster could find out just by sifting through garbage for a few minutes.
Email phishing tactics are a lot like phone call scams. The emails trick people into giving personal info to be used for identity theft. According to the Federal Trade Commission, fraudsters send thousands of phishing emails every day, and sadly, they often find success.4 Always be suspicious of emails asking for your personal information. Even if it’s from a company or business you know, be careful. Scammers’ emails can look genuine, so it’s important to learn how to identify suspicious emails.
Ron Shuck, Director of Information Security at CURO Financial Technologies Corp (the holding company for Speedy Cash), suggested some insightful tips. "Always look at the details before you click a link. The bad guys are upping their game. Cons can look incredibly legitimate, and may not have the typos and language mistake that used to be common. A common trick is to make the link look real with a minor change, like www.spedycash.com, which is missing an ‘e’ so it looks okay at a quick glance.
On the phone, scammers will usually give you some sense of urgency to provide the information. They may be rude or even unprofessional. Even if the “customer server rep” is pleasant and kind, you should be very cautious about handing over your personal information. Call the company back at a number you verify, if there is a reason for the company to have your information.”
When it comes to identity theft and financial fraud, you can’t be too cautious. If you fall victim, it can take years to get your life organized and protected again. Safeguard your info and protect your identity by not giving out sensitive material by phone or email, using care when posting on social media, creating strong passwords, and shredding sensitive documents. Make the steps to take your cyber security to the next level for your safety now and for the future.
The information included in this article has been reviewed and approved by Ron Shuck, Director of Information Security at CURO Financial Technologies Corp.
1 Harrell, E. Ph.D. (2019, January 8). Victims of Identity Theft, 2016. Retrieved from Bureau of Justice Statistics: https://www.bjs.gov/index.cfm?ty=pbdetail&iid=6467
2 Vaca, M. (2020, January 23). The top frauds of 2019. Retrieved from Federal Trade Commission: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2020/01/top-frauds-2019
3 Staff. (2020, January 24). Phone Scams. Retrieved from AARP: https://www.aarp.org/money/scams-fraud/info-2019/phone.html
4 Ledford, J. (2020 February 02). Documents You Should Shred to Prevent Identity Theft. Retrieved from The Balance: https://www.thebalance.com/shred-mail-identity-theft-1947644
5 Staff. (2019, May). How to Recognize and Avoid Phishing Scams. Retrieved from: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/how-recognize-and-avoid-phishing-scams