How can you protect yourself?Use strict password criteria
A tough password can be your first line of defense against someone trying to access one of your online accounts.Avoid predictable or easily guessed passwords.
This includes your date of birth, nickname, pet's name - or your Social Security number, which is fairly easy for someone to obtain. Many sites will prevent you from using your SSN or date of birth as a password.Don't reuse passwords.
Passwords can be difficult to remember, but if an unauthorized person can gain access to one of them, many more accounts for which you have the same login could be compromised.Keep your passwords and reminders safe.
Treat your passwords as you would the key to your home. If you must write them down, keep them in a safe place or in a computer file with an unassuming filename. Consider using a password vault or password keeper application to help you remember your passwords.Never provide your password in response to an email.
No reputable company will ever ask you for your username and password in an email. If you get such an email, it is likely a scam or phishing.Take advantage of password recovery features.
Many websites ask you to keep a secret question on file in the event you forget your password or need to change it. Some can send you a random code via text message to allow you to reset it.Monitor your accounts
With a little vigilance, you can detect and address suspicious activity before it affects your account or credit score.Review your accounts monthly.
You would know better than anyone if something has gone missing from your account or if changes have been made that you did not initiate. Take notice if statements do not arrive when they should. Open all communications from financial institutions in a timely manner.Set up automated transaction alerts.
On some sites, you can use alerts to tell you when something is happening in your account. Choose notifications for unusual spending, withdrawals, or account inquiries. In some instances, you can have these messages sent via text message to your mobile device.Request a free, annual credit report.
A change in your credit rating or a request for new credit (e.g., for a credit card) can be an indication that someone has stolen your identity or tampered with your accounts. All U.S. residents are entitled to receive one free credit report every 12 months from each of the 3 nationwide consumer credit reporting agencies: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.Act quickly if you suspect account fraud.
- Review your credit reports.
- Place a fraud alert on your account by contacting one of the credit reporting companies.
- Close any accounts opened or used fraudulently.
- File a report with the police and the Federal Trade Commission.