How can we Protect Ourselves Online?

by Sally Perkins
Contribution from Freelance Writer

Sunshine State Dwellers Beware! Your Credit Score Slump May Not Be Due To Your Spending Habits

The US economy is finally on the upswing again after the financial crisis of 2008, and with it, the increase in spending. This means that consumers have more than likely recovered from bad debt situations in 2008, and are now able to qualify for finance again. In fact, in April 2017, Americans had a stellar average FICO score of 700 to 850. In Orlando, this could once again mean an influx of tourists! However, this also means that local and national consumers are at risk of being targeted by fraudsters. Here’s how to avoid becoming that target.

Identity Theft and Fraud A Very Personal Issue In Florida
The fastest way fraudsters gain access to personal information, is through access to the social security number. Florida is currently rated as the third largest state when it comes to identity theft and fraud claims. Online databases that collect and store some of the information are part of the problem as over 901 million records have been breached to date. If this isn’t alarming enough, the figure is on the rise. Here are a few tips to prevent this from happening:

  • Keep information private and encrypted – At home, keeping the information on an external hard drive is safer than keeping it on the computer itself. It’s also important to encrypt the drive. Those who happen to have a secure cloud account and do backups to it should opt to go with a provider that offers numerous security protocols and encryption. Furthermore, information needs to remain private in order to not get into the wrong hands; therefore, consumers are encouraged not to share personal or sensitive information over a public network, such as a WiFi hotspot.
  • Keep track of your finances – The best way to keep track of finances, other than scrutinizing statements, is by checking a credit report. This gives the consumer access to all credit accounts as well as their balances. An unexpected bad credit record could be an indication of fraud or identity theft.
  • Don’t Share Information When Solicited For It – This is possibly one of the biggest warnings to consumers. The reason is simple: phishing.

Fraudsters have a lot of patience and will get the information they need to progress to the next step. It’s important not to share information with parties when the request is not solicited by the actual consumer.

For many, the journey to recovery from bad debt, whether caused by identity theft or not, is a long and tedious one. With as many as 41 million Americans affected by identity theft, it’s important to prevent an incident. With these simple steps, consumers are far less vulnerable to cyber attacks, scams, and phishing attempts.


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