Identity Theft is a Top Concern for Houstonians

Technology has changed the world in many ways. We now have access to more information than ever before. All of this newfound access, however, can also make it difficult to protect ourselves from identity theft and data breach.

According to a recent Morgan Stanley Investor Pulse Poll, Houston investors rank identity theft as both the issue they’re most concerned about and the issue they feel they are most likely to be impacted by —even ranking ahead of terrorism and a major illness in one’s household.

Most (81%) say that, with changing technology, it is difficult to know how best to protect themselves from identity theft. And while a majority (69%) feel they are doing enough to protect themselves from identity theft, far fewer subscribe to relevant services like credit score (28%) or personal identity (24%) monitoring services or online password managers (11%).

With technology constantly changing, it can be hard to know what steps to take to protect yourself from identity theft and data breaches. Above all, it is important to remain alert and vigilant, and when it comes to safeguarding your identity and financial information, there are a few things you can do to help protect yourself:

Avoid Scams
Make sure to keep your guard up, especially when people contact you asking for personal information. Never divulge your credit card number or other personal information over the Internet or telephone unless you initiate the communication. While it may be exciting to hear that you’ve won a prize from a contest you don’t remember entering, it is important to think clearly and tread with caution.

Check Your Accounts
Check your bank account and credit card accounts monthly and/or sign up for text alerts each time a purchase is made. Remember that a fraudulent charge isn’t always a big purchase. The perpetrator could be charging small amounts overtime so you don’t detect the suspicious activity. Always report unauthorized financial transactions to your bank, credit card company and the police as soon as you notice them.

Protect Your Passwords
It’s easy to remember a password that’s composed of something familiar such as a name or birthday, but it also makes it easier for hackers or scammer to crack it. Make sure to use unique passwords and diversify them among your accounts. Don’t use the same password you use for your social media accounts to login for online banking. Additionally, don’t share your username or password with others.

Regularly Check your Credit History
It is common for people to check their credit history at the beginning or end of the year, but also consider a mid-year credit check. Frequently checking your credit score may help you detect fraudulent behavior that you wouldn’t have noticed otherwise.

Identity Theft Protection Service
You may want to think about investing in an identity theft protection service that notifies you when accounts are opened in your name. Make sure to extensively research services to determine the best one for you.

Act Fast
If you believe your personal information has been compromised, don’t waste time, contact your bank, credit card company or financial advisor to notify them of the breach immediately.

Above all, it’s important to always remain aware. Simply checking your accounts regularly and questioning situations where you are asked to divulge personal information can go a long way. For more information about protecting your financial assets, contact your financial advisor.

About the author

The Clarity Group at Morgan Stanley