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The internet has made it much easier to buy all kinds of goods with just a few clicks of a mouse or taps on a screen. It has also made it simpler to transfer money or perform other financial transactions. However, there are many ways that criminals can try to access your information, which means that it is important that you take steps to safeguard it.
Strong, Changing Passwords
A strong password typically includes a letter; number; and special symbol, such as an exclamation point. It is also important that you change your passwords every 30 to 60 days to further keep criminals away from your credit card or bank accounts. It can also be a good idea to change your password if you think that someone has accessed an account for any reason.
Monitor Your Credit
You should take advantage of your free personal credit report from one of the three major credit reporting agencies. Each reporting agency is required to send you a free copy of your credit report once per year. It may also be possible to obtain a copy of this report if you request a fraud alert or put a freeze on your credit information.
Your credit report will list any address or phone number that has been reported to a given agency. It will also list all outstanding account balances, the status of those accounts and how long they have been open. If any of the information that you see looks suspicious or incorrect, you can dispute it at any time.
Be Wary of Unsolicited Emails or Phone Calls
You should know that the IRS will never send an email or a text message asking for personal information. The same is generally true for most banks and other financial institutions with which you do business. If you do receive an email or a phone call from a company claiming that it needs information about your account, call and verify that the message is legitimate. In many cases, criminals will use phone numbers that don’t belong to the company that they claim to represent or will send emails full of misspelled words.
If a criminal gains access to your financial information, it can only take a few minutes to open a variety of accounts in your name. Therefore, it is critical that you monitor existing accounts and report anything that seems suspicious as soon as possible.
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