CategoriesFinance

Preventing Identity Theft: 4 Strategies

Identity theft is a significant issue in the modern age. With the rise of the internet and conversion to digital commerce, stealing identities has become somewhat easier for the savvy criminal. Therefore, protecting yourself is more important now than ever before.

Identity protection is about building access barriers. You should use multiple strategies to protect your information in both the real and digital world. The remainder of this post will discuss four practices to prevent theft and ultimately protect your identity.

1. Do Not Give Out Personal Information Over the Phone

It is happening more and more often. Unsuspecting people, typically senior citizens or the elderly, receive a phone call explaining they owe money to the IRS or that a relative has left them a small fortune. In both situations, the caller requires some information: name, birthday, social security number, address, etc. While a majority of potential victims will blow these calls off, others feel compelled by the supposed legal repercussions or emotional appeal.

Do not, under any circumstances, give out personal information over the phone, unless you are certain of the person or agency on the other end of the line. Any official government institution will use the mail to notify individuals of any crucial information or debt. 

If you receive a suspicious phone call, instead of giving your information willingly, tell the caller you will contact the agency or person they claim to represent and verify the information. It is amazing how much a scammer can do with only a little information.

2. Protect Personal Documents and Trash

Have you ever left mail in your mailbox because you were too tired to make the short walk down the driveway? One of the most popular ways identity thieves gain access to personal information is by snooping in neighborhood mailboxes. It doesn’t take long either. If possible, collect your mail as soon as it is delivered. If you cannot, consider getting a secure and lockable box installed on your property.

Another popular theft method is going through your trash for personal item, such as prescription bottles, junk mail, utility bills, etc. To prevent the invasion of your privacy, get a crosscut paper shredder for your mail and a blackout stamp for your pill bottles.

3. Password Protect Everything and Use a Password Manager

Worrying about physical theft of personal items is not the only concern. Many identity thieves are tech savvy, meaning they are learning to hack devices and steal passwords. While protecting all your digital accounts with a complex and non-personal password is advisable, it is best to use a password manager to create unique passcodes for every account.

Many people fall into the trap of using a single password for all accounts. Even if the password is excellent, if a thief gets ahold of that single password, they now have access to your entire digital life.

4. Avoid Suspicious Emails and Texts

It is becoming more and more common for thieves to use email and text message links to try and entice unsuspecting users to enter sensitive information. These cyber attacks are called phishing attacks. Some of the links you’ll find in emails or on mobile devices have encrypted malware, meaning once you click the link, the thief has access to your device and any personal information stored on it. Do not click on suspicious links, and verify anything you are unsure of by contacting the supposed institution.

Have you ever been the victim of identity theft? Leave a comment below discussing your experience and anything you learned that could be helpful to other contributors.

CategoriesFinance

Liquid and Safe Places To Stash Your Emergency Fund

Many preppers have a hard time trusting banking institutions because of proven greed and negative economic impact. However, the misgivings of a few do not mean that all financial vehicles are dangerous and mistakes. There are many tools to secure your emergency fund and earn you a decent interest rate in the process, and in almost every case, these financial assets are more secure than the underside of your mattress.

HighYield Savings Account

Most people know that the stock market is volatile and not very liquid. In an emergency, you want access to your funds without too much of a hassle. Unfortunately, while it offers potential for significant growth, the stock market does not provide a quick turn around, especially without loss.

The stock market’s faults force many to consider the safety of a standard savings account, but these accounts will not offer even a decent return on your investment. Granted, for many, an emergency fund’s purpose is not to grow money but to maintain the current value; still, if there is an opportunity to earn two percent interest rather than less than one percent APY.

High-yield accounts provide the opportunity for growth, security, and accessibility. You can find these accounts at traditional and online banks. Many online institutions may offer accounts without maintenance fees and lower deposit requirements if any.

Certificates of Deposit

Certificates of deposit or CDs are excellent options for people who do not mind leaving their emergency fund alone for a specified amount of time, 30 days to 10 years. CDs provide the opportunity to earn even more in interest than a high-yield account, but the funds are not accessible during the specified time. However, some accounts will let you terminate the CD if you pay penalties. Some people consider having a CD latter with several CDs at different maturity rates, allowing access to funds every few months.

Money Market Account

Money market accounts can offer a higher APY than high-yield accounts, but they often come with more stringent requirements. For example, you may need to start the account with a higher initial deposit. However, money market accounts also come with benefits, like debit cards and check writing privileges, which make accessing funds easier.

Roth Individual Retirement Account

Depending on your age and the account’s maturity, a Roth IRA can act as an emergency fund for qualifying withdrawals. Being as the account is a tax-advantaged vehicle, you can remove qualifying funds without paying taxes, much like savings. However, if the withdrawal does not meet specific requirements, you may face penalties.

MultiFaceted Portfolio

If you are looking to maximize your earning potential, and secure your emergency funds while still maintaining some level of accessibility, consider a multi-faceted approach. Store part of your emergency funds in high-yield accounts and CDs, and also contribute to your IRA. Using multiple vehicles can maximize earning potential and ensure you always have money when you need it.

While it can be challenging to trust the financial industry, using the tools discussed is an excellent way to ensure your emergency funds are always accessible. How do you feel about the banking industry, and where do you stash your emergency funds? Leave a comment and keep the dialogue going.

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