Top 10 Identity Theft Myths
In today's world, it is more important than ever to focus on what we can control to better safeguard our financial future. It's easy to get complacent and lulled into a false sense of security. That's why we assembled the Top 10 Identity Theft Myths that you need to stop believing now. Along with this information are suggested resolutions for the new year that will better protect your identity both online and offline if followed all year long.
Myth #10 - Identity thieves are mysterious, scary people.
It's true, identity thieves do exist in dark places, but they can also live in your neighborhood, shop at the same stores as you, and some may even frequent the same coffee shops.
Your resolution: Always keep a close eye on your devices and the people around you, and no matter what, never share privileged information like passwords with anyone.
Myth #9 - Phishing scams are easy to spot.
We've all seen examples of how phishing scams can camouflage themselves to appear legitimate but may leave tell-tale signs to spot, such as misspellings, improper use of the English language, or an apparent redirection of the real company's URL. However, scammers are becoming more careful and sophisticated.
Your resolution: Know the most common signs of a phishing email but don't believe that it will protect you 100%. Even the most sophisticated users can fall victim. Start with this article from the Federal Trade Commission to learn how to recognize phishing.
Myth #8 - I know a fake call when I hear one.
While email "phishing" is an attempt to trick a person into giving up personal information, "vishing" is the same except the method is using a telephone call.
Your resolution: Never give out personal information to someone on the phone, even if you feel pressure to do so. You can always tell the caller that you will call back to a published number for the company that they say they represent. An ethical person will never object.
Myth #7 - Social media is safe as long as I only share with family and trusted friends.
Of course, these treasured friends and family would not do anything intentionally to expose you to fraud. However, when posts are being shared time and time again, it is easy for malicious games, click-bait and bogus retail offers to get passed to you innocently.
Your Resolution: Review your social media privacy settings and precisely what you are sharing publicly. Check out this article from the Federal Trade Commission on Scams that Start with Social Media for additional advice on staying safe.
Myth #6 - If I am a victim of identity theft, I will get an alert.
Credit Monitoring and Dark Web Monitoring are two of the most common types of alert services that help consumers know if their personal information may be at risk. These services and others are excellent for alerting consumers that their personal information is at risk, sometimes allowing them to get ahead of fraud. However, there are some types of identity theft that even the most sophisticated monitoring can't detect.
Your Resolution: Make sure that you have Credit Monitoring and Dark Web Monitoring working to help you stay aware of risks and take action early, but don't get a false sense of security. Truity provides these services, at no additional cost, to our Preferred and Advantage checking account holders.
Myth #5 - It's no big deal if someone breaches my email.
"All I have in there are cat pictures and emails to my child's teacher. Good luck making something out of that!" For a hacker, email addresses can be priceless. They can use the address itself in spoofing, phishing scams and much more!
Your Resolution: Treat your email account like cash because it can be to a fraudster. Change your password often!
Myth #4: I use antivirus software, so I'm fine.
I will know if something terrible gets to my device or information. Because antivirus software vendors are almost always playing defense against hackers, using antivirus software will never protect you 100%. And many people download antivirus software and then forget about it for months or even years. Antivirus software needs maintenance and updates to stay current, and it needs to remain active on a subscription.
Your Resolution: Check for updates for your antivirus software regularly and make sure that your subscription does not expire. Use caution around email attachments, and don't open an attachment only because it looks as though it is coming from someone you know.
Myth #3: I use complex passwords.
Password strength only helps if someone is trying to guess your password. While having a complex password is still a good idea, and required by most companies, long gone are the days when a complex password with a certain number of characters and symbols alone was enough to deter thieves from accessing your accounts. Today, cybercriminals can run billions of password combinations through sophisticated programs.
Your resolution: Change your passwords often, which is one of the most critical security measures you control. Also, it is essential to use different passwords for your various accounts. If a criminal gains access to one of your passwords, you don't want it to provide the universal key to unlock all your accounts.
Myth #2: My personal information is already out there.
It doesn't make any difference if I am careful. There have indeed been some significant data breach incidents in the past several years, such as Equifax and the United States Office of Personnel Management, that have exposed millions of Americans' personal information. Also, there are hundreds of other smaller data breach incidents each year.
Your Resolution: Double-down on those tedious habits that make it more difficult for an identity thief to make you their victim. Change your passwords often, don't use the same username and password combination for all of your accounts, watch your banking and other transaction statements for suspicious activity, take part in Credit Monitoring and Dark Web Monitoring to be alerted when your information may be exposed, and seek professional help quickly if identity theft strikes.
Myth #1: It only happens to other people.
I don't have much money; therefore, I am not a target. The Federal Trade Commission's annual report on fraud, the Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book, was last published in January 2020. It estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Economic status is not essential to an identity thief.
Your Resolution: Stay vigilant. Treat your identity information as you would cash. Share it only when necessary and keep it safe. The irony of this statement is that you are still precious to criminals regardless of the balance in your bank account or the credit limit on your credit card.
Truity is here for you! While it's vital that you know the risks and practice good habits to protect your identity, we want you to remember that we have you covered in the event of identity theft. If you have a Preferred or Advantage checking account, you have Fully Managed Identity Theft Recovery services at your fingertips. Should you feel your identity has been compromised, we have professional Identity Theft Recovery Advocates standing by. These Advocates work on your behalf to help you recover and reverse any damage caused by identity theft. Contact us to learn more about your coverage.