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Protecting your hard-earned money from cyber-theft

Posted: 6:31 PM, Feb 21, 2020
Updated: 2020-02-21 18:31:56-05

As data breaches become more common, fears are increasing on how to keep your personal information, private.

You can protect yourself from scams designed to steal your hard-earned cash.

Everything you do online can make you vulnerable to thieves.

Logging onto your email account, checking your credit or checking account balances, paying bills online and ordering food on apps.

That means, now more than ever, you should take extra precautions to protect your personal data from cyber criminals.

According to a 2019 report from the Identity Theft Resource, an estimated 165 million sensitive records were exposed through close to 15,000 breaches of private and government organizations in the US.

Two of the easiest and most reliable ways to protect your personal information are fraud alerts and credit freezes.

Both make it harder for identity thieves to open new accounts in your name.

But which is right for you?

A fraud alert requires companies to verify your identity before allowing new credit.

It's free through all three credit reporting agencies, Equifax, Experian and Transunion, and, it lasts for one year.

Also free is a credit freeze, which limits access to your credit report so no one, including you, can open new accounts.

It lasts until you lift the freeze using your PIN or password.

Credit freezes are best for people not planning to take out new credit, such as older adults, children and people under guardianship.

The best advice from financial experts: regularly review copies of your credit reports, as well as your bank and credit card statements for suspicious activity, and never give out your personal information unless you are absolutely sure you are dealing with a reputable business.