From the data breach that occurred at Target locations across the nation during the holidays, to the more recent hacks at eBay, identity theft appears to be happening more often lately. Even so, there’s still a slim chance you’ll be a victim of having your personal information stolen, right? Wrong. In reality, about one half of American adults have had their information hacked in to by scammers.
CNNMoney revealed that an estimated 47 percent of U.S. adults have had their information hacked within the last 12 months.
According to Javelin Strategy & Research, a total of 13.1 million people over the year have been a victim of fraud. The study reveals that every two seconds, someone is hit with fraud.
Fraud can occur anywhere, so it’s now more important than ever to check all of your bank statements, credit card statements and to review your credit report every quarter.
Unfortunately, Here are five reasons why the actions you took may have increased the chance you will be the victim of fraud, and what to do if you have been hacked so that your identity is protected.
1. You used wireless Internet that was not password protected.
Do you frequent coffee shops, or log in online to any type of public wireless Internet connection that is not password protected? If so, the data on your computer may be at risk. Hackers love unsecured networks because they are easy to access and provide them with a great number of people to steal information from. They can also tap into your computer directly to view documents and other pieces of personal information stored on your device, so be conscious of this as well.
Avoid logging into wireless connections that are not password protected. Look into buying software that will encrypt the data on your computer so you are protected in the event someone does try and access your personal information. Hackers will find it more difficult to access your information when it is protected through encryption, increasing the chance they will ignore your data.
2. You regularly conduct banking transactions through public Internet
Completing banking transactions through your computer, table, or smartphone in public can put your bank account information at risk. Banks do their best to encrypt the data that is transmitted, but hackers may still be able to retrieve your login information to use at a later date.
Unless absolutely necessary, avoid conducting banking transactions online in a public setting.
3. You continuously use ATMs in sketchy locations.
Card skimmer devices are sometimes placed at ATMs or other places where you swipe your debit or credit card. Scammers use the device to steal your card information and make a copies of it.
If you suspect the card reader you are about to use has a skimmer on it, jiggle the card reader to make sure it’s securely attached to the machine. Also, reconcile your bank statements to ensure there isn’t any suspicious activity. Thieves are sneaky — they will use your card information to steal smaller amounts from your account — anywhere from $10 to $50 worth of transactions a week because they are hoping victims won’t notice.
Report any unauthorized activity to your bank immediately or you may be liable for old charges on your account.
4. You shopped at a major retailer who has had their data breached by hackers.
Have you shopped at Target, Neiman Marcus or any other major retailer that has been hacked recently? Anyone who has shopped at a retailer that has suffered a data breach should to pay close attention to their financial statements. Even if you may not have been impacted yet, your information was still exposed. Some scam artists wait several months to strike before they attempt to carry out fraud.
Stay up-to-date on the latest news to know which places you have shopped at may have had their data breached. Consider changing your credit or debit card information if you think your information has been compromised. Call your bank or credit card company directly to ask for a new card number. Keep in mind, if you ask for a new credit card number and a bill is directly linked to that card, you should update that as well.
5. You opened an Internet link via text from an unknown number.
A scam artist can acquire your phone number without much difficulty, especially if you have your phone number on public display through social media or anywhere else on the web. Hackers find phone numbers of people and send them a fake text with a web link that claims to provide some type of exclusive deal or bargain, except the link is fake and opens your phone to allow the hacker to retrieve data from it.
Be wary from texts you receive from unfamiliar numbers and always avoid clicking on any links from random numbers. Block the number and delete any texts you receive to ensure you or someone else using your phone does not click on the link.