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Identity theft: Don't let your guard down

A study found that while people are very

A study found that while people are very concerned about identity theft, they still engage in risky digital behavoir. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/CreativaImages

If you know better, you’ll do better, right? 

Well, not always. For instance, in a survey of more than 1,200 people, a majority said they believed that having their identity stolen would be worse than having their home broken into (46 percent vs. 27 percent). Despite that, 92 percent of the respondents said they were guilty of at least one risky data security behavior in the past year.

Their financial faux pas included using the same password for multiple online accounts, saving passwords and posting their birthday on social media.

There are many advantages to handling and managing your money online, but be sure that you don’t let your guard down. 

Be careful using public Wi-Fi hot spots

 “Someone in a coffee shop or airport can create a hot spot and call it ‘Free Wi-Fi’. Connecting to one of these could allow the criminal to monitor everything you do on your computer and access your files," says James Nevers, a certified financial planner with Soundmark Wealth Management in Kirkland, Washington. "Do bank online at home or use your phone’s Wi-Fi hot spot.”

Make sure you’re on a secure site

Often, creators of websites with bad intentions attempt to impersonate secure websites to convince you to input your information. “Double-check the site’s URL before entering any information. Secure sites begin with ‘https’ and will typically have a lock symbol,” says Leslie Tayne, a debt resolution attorney with the Tayne Law Group in Melville.

Inquire about virtual credit card numbers 

These are digital representations of your real card, but with different card details. Says Oliver Brown, a credit industry analyst with, “If a hacker steals your virtual credit card information, your actual card will not be compromised. You can report and cancel the virtual credit card instead.”

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