In the face of data breaches and updating privacy terms, everyone faces a similar question: should I get identity protection?
Although you may have not been directly affected by security or privacy breaches, everyone should be aware of a constant cyber security threat.
For example, in 2021 Facebook was the target for a massive security breach. The exposed data included the personal information of over 533 million Facebook users from 106 countries, including over 32 million records on users in the US, 11 million on users in the UK, and 6 million on users in India. It included their phone numbers, Facebook IDs, full names, locations, birthdates, bios, and, in some cases, email addresses.
Long story short, data breaches happen more frequently than you may think, they pop up often enough in the news cycle, and we live in an age that is very reliant on technology.
Most of your information is out there somewhere and, unfortunately, you are constantly at risk.
Enough Scary Stuff. What Can You Do?
It’s hard to know what to do when you hear about a data hack and compromised information. If your information is stolen, an apology from the company just isn’t going to do much.
But one thing you can do is get identity protection from a professional.
Identity protection is offered by several institutions and companies. There are a few different types of identity protection that are available:
With this service, the company keeps an eye on your accounts constantly. It looks for differences in your credit reports and flags potential signs of theft. You are also entitled to one free credit report a year from each of the three major credit bureaus, so it’s helpful to take advantage of that as well and do some credit monitoring of your own.
With a credit freeze, no new accounts can be opened, and no one can access your credit report. The downside of a credit freeze is that it also applies to you, so you won’t be able to open a new account or see your credit report while the freeze is active. The upside? Neither can anybody else.
The fraud alert is similar to a credit freeze, except that with a fraud alert, businesses have to check with you before a new account is opened. If it’s you, that’s no problem. If it’s someone else, you can stop it.
Some Other Things You Can Do
Identity protection is not the only thing you can do to keep your information safe. There are some precautions and basic things you can do to make sure your identity doesn’t end up where it shouldn’t.
Change your passwords regularly
Don’t keep a password for too long. If you can’t remember the last time you changed your password for anything, it may be a good idea to change it now. Don’t base your passwords off of actual words, making them easier for a potential hacker or program to figure out. A secure password should be a mix of capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters, and should be about 8-15 characters long. Password generators like LastPass can be a big help if you have trouble thinking of new passwords to use. Here’s a great article on creating strong passwords.
Don’t give away your information
Make sure to not put your personal information in any email, to anyone. Real companies will never ask for your information via email, so don’t reply to anything asking for it. Be wary of scams.
Keep an eye on all your accounts
You should be able to see if something is wrong with your accounts. Make sure to report any fraudulent activity to the company involved, the FBI, the FTC, and at least one of the national credit reporting agencies.
Shred what you don’t need
If you have documents that you don’t need anymore, shred them. If you throw them away, they can still be read and stolen. Keep anything you don’t shred in a secure location. (Read our post, Buried Under for more information)
purchasing identity protection, but it may be worth it
While you can monitor things on your own and try to protect yourself, many people don’t monitor their accounts as well as they should and aren’t very careful about their information. If this sounds like you, it’s a good idea to check out your options and look into purchasing identity theft protection.
At Medallion Financial Group, we believe financial planning is about Family. We have been helping families invest in the future since 1987 through a holistic planning approach. We recognize there are a variety of needs when it comes to retirement planning, plan rollovers, annuities, college planning, life insurance options, and investment management. It is easy to get lost in a sea of choices. Our financial advisors help with the basics and beyond to enable our clients to get the education, advice and management they need to retire with confidence.
Our focus is twofold: first and foremost, we are fiduciary advisors. We stand against any violation of laws, values, and ethics. Second, we treat our clients as part of our family, not only those who call Maryland and Georgia home, but clients across the US who have benefited from our reputation of personal service, integrity, and expertise.
We strive to exceed client’s expectations – because we have high expectations of ourselves.