Personal finance website WalletHub just identified Florida as the #1 state for identity theft and fraud, based on average rankings on measures like identity theft complaints per capita, average amount of money lost in identity fraud cases, and fraud arrests per capita.
Criminals did not take the year off, despite the COVID slow down. In fact, the COVID pandemic gave rise to new scams related to federal stimulus payments, fake Social Security and IRS telephone calls, and bogus COVID cures.
To make sure you’re not a victim of fraud, here’s 5 simple tips for tech pros and neophytes alike:
Protect your passwords. Use strong passwords online, use different passwords for different sites, employ a password keeper like LastPass, and be vigilant with unfamiliar computers or WiFi networks.
Don’t forget low-tech protections. Get a shredder and shred all financial statements, personal papers, credit card solicitations and other sensitive papers. Never provide sensitive information in response to an incoming phone call. The IRS, Social Security or financial institutions will never call you to ask for that info, and Caller IDs can easily be “spoofed” to say the calls are from a legitimate party, when they’re really not.
Review and reconcile accounts monthly. Make sure you can identify transactions in your accounts, verify amounts, and correct errors timely. This is also a good way to spot those budget-busting recurring charges and cancel those you no longer need. If you move, change your address on file promptly. Online notifications from credit card companies and banks are a great idea and can alert you to fraudulent charges as soon as they happen.
Sign up for free credit monitoring. There are plenty of free services out there that let you monitor changes in your credit report, and check to see if anyone has opened up new credit in your name.
Be careful where you click. Don’t open unfamiliar emails or attachments, and check online addresses for spelling errors or small modifications that could signal a phishing attempt.
For more tips and information, check out WalletHub’s Identity Theft Guide.
Numerous providers offer credit monitoring services. Read more about WalletHub’s free credit monitoring services, or check out this summary of The 7 Best Credit Monitoring Services of 2020 from financial website TheBalance.