Identity theft and fraud are two issues that you need to watch out for these days. Nothing is worse and more headache-inducing than figuring out how someone accessed your personal information and used it to steal money or identity.
It’s the rare person who isn’t online in some capacity in 2021. Even older adults usually have email accounts, do online shopping, conduct online banking, and so forth. However, even if you have an individual who thinks they have no online identity, it’s still possible for a determined hacker to steal from them, and they might never know it until some time has passed.
We’ll talk in this article about some of the specific reasons why you need to be extra careful to avoid both fraud and identity theft.
You’ll Have to Cancel All Your Credit Cards
One reason why you should at least consider some fraud prevention solutions is that if someone steals your credit card information, they can easily max out your credit cards within a single afternoon. There are various ways a hacker might gain access to this information. You might try to use your credit cards on an unsecured Wi-Fi network, like one in a library or a coffee shop.
Some people are pretty blasé about how they log onto credit card sites while they use public Wi-Fi. A diligent hacker might use that opportunity to snatch your login name and password. Once they have that, they can usually use your credit card to buy things online with no issues.
What’s even worse is that they might determine that you have other credit card accounts, and they’ll log onto those and spend money there as well. This is one of the main reasons why you should always have different login names and different passwords for every one of your credit cards.
If a hacker does steal this information and go on a spending spree, it’s no fun having to contact the credit card companies to explain what happened. You’ll have to cancel all those credit cards and wait for new ones to arrive, and it can be challenging having to identify all the fraudulent charges and getting refunds for them too.
You Might Have to Close Your Bank Account
You might have a similar situation, where you used public Wi-Fi, or you used your Wi-Fi at home, but you did not encrypt it. If so, you might go on a bank website thinking that it’s secure. While you’re checking your balance, transferring money, or whatever else you’re doing, a hacker can steal that login information.
From there, it’s usually a simple enough matter to assume your identity and try to drain your accounts. They might not be able to take all your money without setting off some red flags, but they may be able to get at least some of it before you or the bank realizes that anything is wrong.
If that happens, you may need to close out the account and open an entirely new one. You’ll need the new account number, as well as a new login and password that in no way resembles the old one. It’s a time-consuming, annoying process.
Someone Might Ruin Your Credit
One more reason why fraud and identity theft are such big issues is that if someone assumes your identity, they might completely ruin your credit before you realize what’s happening. Using unsecured Wi-Fi is just one way that a hacker might access your data, such as bank accounts, insurance information, etc. They might also steal your trash and look for bank documents or anything else with your social security number and other vital info.
Once someone has your name, physical address, and social security number, they can do a ton of damage if they set their mind to it. They might apply for a loan in your name and then abscond with the money. They may buy a car or other big-ticket items, like high-end stereo components, computers, furniture, jewelry, expensive clothing, etc.
By the time you comprehend what has happened, your credit will be in the toilet, and you’ll probably have to work with all kinds of different companies explaining what happened. Individuals who are not too tech-savvy sometimes don’t learn for several months that this theft or misappropriation has occurred.
Enacting or installing some basic web security features can help you avoid these issues, so it’s well worth spending the money on them.