Factors to consider
- It is well known that social media is a goldmine for scammers seeking to obtain your personal information.
- You should avoid giving out any online personal information that could be used to answer your financial account’s security questions.
- Be sure to do your due diligence before providing personal information to someone who contacts you out of the blue claiming to be a business or government employee.
Using just a few pieces of your personal information, someone can do a great deal of damage to your life. They can drain your bank accounts, ruin your credit, and make lenders contact you at all hours of the day. You can end up being the victim of a debt consolidation scam. Therefore, keeping your personal information secure is imperative to protect your financial well-being and mental health.
You probably already know to refrain from writing down your passwords or logging into financial accounts on public Wi-Fi networks. Still, identity thieves also have trickier methods of gaining your information.
Social media oversharing
Sharing information about your life on social media can effectively keep friends and family updated, but they are sometimes the only ones who see it. If your profile is set to public, anyone can see everything you post. A skilled hacker can still break in, even if it is private.
Even though you may not realize it, your accounts could contain a wealth of personal information. You likely have your birthday listed there. You may also have noted where you attended school, the year you graduated, and where you currently reside. You probably know your mother’s maiden name even if you are friends.
It is common to use facts like these to verify your identity on your bank account. By making them easily accessible, thieves will have a much easier time impersonating you. And this is supported by the data. As a result of a Javelin Strategy & Research study, active social media users have a 46% increased risk of account takeover fraud compared to those who do not use social media at all.
Nevertheless, you can still shut down all your accounts. Instead, you should ensure that all your accounts are private and that the amount of personal and financial information you share is limited. You may avoid using readily available information for security questions on your financial accounts as an additional safety measure. For example, you could list your grandmother’s name rather than your mother’s.
Quizzes and surveys online
It can be innocuous to take quizzes that promise to tell you which superhero you are or what your luck will be in 2023. However, scammers can also use them to obtain your personal information. As discussed above, one popular strategy is to ask questions that are also common account security questions.
Identity thieves can use surveys to do the same thing. A few go further by offering payment for participating in a survey. They may ask you to provide your contact information or bank account information in the hope of receiving payment. However, you will never receive anything in return. As a result, only participate in online quizzes and surveys if you are confident that your answers will not be used against you by a legitimate organization.
The act of impersonating a business you work for
Many scammers create fake businesses to solicit personal information from unsuspecting individuals; however, many prefer to disguise themselves as representatives of established companies or even the federal government to request personal information. Those individuals contact you pretending to be members of these organizations, asking you to either confirm or update your personal information or even accusing you of owing money.
It is common for these scams to sound quite convincing, particularly when the caller claims to be affiliated with a bank or credit card company that you already deal with. According to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), imposter scams generated over $2.33 billion in 2021, with an average loss of $1,000 per victim.
These scams can be identified by looking at how they contact you. The government will never send you a text or call you to inform you that you owe money. Instead, you will receive a written notice.
Don’t provide any personal information when in doubt, regardless of how the person might pressure you. Do not visit any websites or call any numbers they provide. Suppose you are still determining whether the communication you received was legitimate. You should look up the company’s website and phone number using your web browser and then contact the company.
You should take all appropriate steps to protect your financial information. Scammers will not disappear anytime soon. They are constantly innovating, so make sure you are keeping up to date on the news regarding the latest scams so that you do not become the next victim. It would help if you kept an eye out for guidance published by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) regarding popular scams.
The FTC and the local police department should be notified if you suspect a scam has victimized you. As well as changing passwords and security questions, notify affiliated institutions if you notice anything amiss in your other financial accounts.