Things – and People – Aren’t Always What They Seem
The reality is that the online world is something of a virtual reality. And now more than ever, things – and people – aren’t always what they seem to be online. Sometimes, not even close. Social media sites can be incredibly valuable and enjoyable. But they can also serve as an entryway for all kinds of cybercriminals, scammers, thieves, phishers, “spear-phishers,”14 and other online undesirables. Even if these various “social engineers” don’t steal your information, prying online eyes can learn a lot about you via social media snooping. So be careful when you’re being social.
Tips + Tactics
- Limit the amount of information you share on social networks
- Limit who can view your information. You can often restrict who can view your information – from “anyone or public” to just “acquaintances or friends”
- Be extremely wary of fake profiles and people who try to connect with you on social networks
- Be on the lookout for phishing attempts (attachments, payment instructions to a new address, directives to change your password, etc.) Never click these links, rather go directly to the website and perform the action from within the website.
- Recognize fraudulent email warning signs (poor spelling, poor grammar, urgent or odd language, vague or unusual addresses)
- Keep all your security software up-to-date
- If you think any of your accounts have been compromised, change your passwords immediately (see our first section for more password tips)
- Avoid using the same password you use for social media websites on your online banking website
- If you think your online banking account has been compromised, check for unknown charges, and contact your financial institution
Secure Your Credit
Utilize Credit Monitoring + Freezes
There’s no denying the importance of your credit history in today’s world. The relative strength or weakness of your credit history can determine your ability to secure loans and insurance policies, gain employment, and open credit card and bank accounts. With so much on the line when it comes to your credit, it’s vital to do everything you can to protect your credit, starting with your credit report. Each of the three major U.S. credit bureaus provides tools to help minimize the risk of your credit report being used by unauthorized entities or individuals.
Tips + Tactics
- Monitor Your Credit: Monitoring your credit report is the best way to spot signs of identity theft, such as suspicious activity and accounts or addresses you’re not familiar with. The three U.S. credit bureaus are required by law to provide one free credit report per year upon request. Any suspicious or fraudulent credit listing you see should be reported to the credit bureau that shows the activity.
- Implement a Credit Freeze: Also known as a security freeze, a credit freeze restricts access to your credit report – making it more difficult for identity thieves to open accounts in your name and/or abuse your credit. A credit freeze prevents a person, merchant, or institution from making an inquiry about your credit report – unless you lift or remove the freeze. Your credit report will continue to be accessible to your existing creditors and/ or debt collectors. Putting a credit freeze in place must be done individually with each of the three U.S. credit bureaus.
- Lift a Credit Freeze: A credit freeze remains in place until you direct the credit bureau to either temporarily lift it or remove it in full. Similar to implementing a credit freeze, each bureau may charge a fee to “unfreeze” your credit. It can also take up to three days for a bureau to act on your request to lift a credit freeze.
Request your free annual credit report at:
Don’t Let Identity Thieves Run Free
Identity theft is no laughing matter. And more and more, it’s not just something that happens to someone else, somewhere else. To combat this rising form of crime – and safeguard and secure your own person and peace of mind – you should always pay close attention to your bank statements, credit card bills, and overall activity on all your accounts. If you do think you’ve been compromised by an identity theft, you can contact one of the three U.S. credit bureaus, and place a fraud alert on your credit file. Fraud alerts may be effective at stopping someone from opening new credit accounts in your name – although they may not prevent any misuse of any of your existing accounts or cards. Fraud alerts do not freeze your credit, and they allow your credit score to change even as they mitigate the risk of unauthorized use.
Tips + Tactics
Three types of fraud alerts:
- Initial Fraud Alert: Primarily designed for individuals who feel their identity has been compromised. Initial Fraud Alerts last 90 days from the date issued, can be continuously renewed, and are entirely free of charge to you.
- Extended Fraud Alert: Reserved exclusively for victims of identity theft, Extended Fraud Alerts are designed to protect your credit for seven years.
- Active Duty Military Alert: Reserved for military personnel who want to protect their credit during deployment. Active Duty Military Alerts last for one year, and can be renewed.
Don't Waste a Moment
Alert Credit Bureaus Immediately
If you’ve been the victim of identity theft of any kind, it’s important to act immediately. Don’t delay. Don’t waste time worrying or wondering about all the details of the crime. Contact one of the three credit bureaus – right away. Tell them you need to place a fraud alert. Here’s how to reach them right now:
Let’s Talk® More
We hope you’ve found this informative and helpful. All of us at Pacific Premier Bank remain devoted to safeguarding and ensuring your security while banking with us. We also welcome the opportunity to talk to you about meeting and exceeding any and all business and personal banking needs you may have.
Give us a call at 1.888.388.5433 and Let's Talk®.
Download Cybersecurity Guides
Cybersecurity at a Glance – A Brief Guide to Serious Security
Cybersecurity Matters – An In-Depth Look at Online Security