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Don't Be a Victim of Cybercrime!

Written by: Sara Coulter |

Cybercrime is on the rise.  It's up to all of us to keep ourselves protected.

Data breaches, hackers, ID theft - As technology evolves, so does cybercrime rise.  But if you make a point to become educated and know how to protect yourself, there’s no reason why you should be afraid of using the conveniences that are available to us.

The following is the first of a series of articles that will arm you with the ammunition to fight the cyberbullies.

You’ve probably heard of major data breaches in the news at some time or another, and unfortunately, they will continue to happen.  However, you don’t have to be part of it if you take the time to educate and protect yourself.

What exactly is a data breach?

A data breach is an incident in which sensitive, protected or confidential data has potentially been viewed, stolen or used by an individual unauthorized to do so. Data breaches may involve personal health information (PHI), personally identifiable information (PII), trade secrets or intellectual property.

This normally happens when an individual hacks into an organization’s data system.  However, there are other less sophisticated but equally damaging methods, such as an employment stealing and distributing private information.

So, for example, if a credit bureau is breached, the hacker has access to potentially all of your credit information, including your social security number.

What can I do to protect myself from a data breach?

Protecting your personal information is a long-term process, and we all need to be diligent about keeping it safe.

Use strong passwords, and don’t share passwords between accounts.  Change your most sensitive passwords on a regular basis.   I know you don’t want to hear it.  We can barely keep up with one password, but a different one for every account?  But this is the most basic way that you can protect your identity.

Take general precautions.  There are many small things that you can do to protect your identity.  You’ve probably heard them all before, but let’s just take a moment to review them again:

  • Shred documents that contain sensitive information.
  • Don’t give personal information over the phone or in an e-mail.
  • Don’t click on e-mail links or open attachments from unrecognized senders.
  • Use antivirus software on your computers.
  • Don’t use public Wi-Fi networks to look up sensitive information (like online banking).
  • Use your credit card (not your debit card) in unsecure situations, such as when shopping online or when someone walks away with your card.

Check your statements regularly (banking, credit, etc.) for unusual activity.  If you see charges or activity that you don’t recognize, notify your bank immediately.  They will cancel your card and reissue a new one.  If you have unusual activity on your credit report, have a fraud alert set up on your account to give you time to determine the loss and contact the company about your account.

Sign up for an identity theft monitoring service, which will watch over you and alert you in the case of a possible data breach. (See below.)

Consider freezing your credit bureau accounts.  This is a simple procedure that will prevent anyone attempting to look at your credit account from doing so.  Just remember that if you apply for any kind of credit or loan, you will need to “unfreeze” your accounts to allow for credit checks.  Visit the websites of each of the credit bureaus for steps to set up a freeze.

That said, don’t be afraid.  Just be diligent.  You’ll be fine…

 Did you know that First Bank’s Modern Fit checking account comes with credit monitoring?  Contact us for more information.

Topics: Security, Business, Investments, Personal

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