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5 Things That Could Be Increasing Your Risk of Fraud

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person in black long sleeve shirt using macbook proCredit: Towfiqu barbhuiya via Unsplash

With fraud and identity theft on the rise, what are your chances of having your personal info stolen? Here are five things that might be inadvertently increasing your risk.

1. Where You Live

What do California, Illinois, Texas, Florida, and Georgia have in common? They are identity theft hotspots with the top five highest rates of fraud complaints in the U.S.

That doesn’t necessarily mean a fraudster will take your Florida line of credit for a ride if you call the Sunshine State home. However, it does mean you should be extra vigilant about cybersecurity any time you use a line of credit in Florida or the other four states listed above.

2. A Short Password

Password hygiene has changed dramatically over the past decade. Something short and sweet that worked a few years ago could leave you vulnerable to a brute force attack today, even if you follow all the usual tips to make a strong password.

That’s because brute force relies on sophisticated ciphers that can guess millions of passwords in no time at all.

To be specific, an 8-character password (containing numbers, upper- and lowercase letters, and symbols) would take 8 hours to hack. An 11-character password, on the other hand, would take 400 years, so make sure you use longer passwords.

3. Clicking Suspicious Links

A friend sends you an email asking you to check out this amazing site. It’s an unusual request, but it comes from someone you trust.

Would you open it? If you do, you’ll be falling for the oldest trick in the book. Scammers pretend to be your friend in the hopes you open a malicious link. While the hyperlink may look legit, it can send you to a criminal website trying to steal your info.

4. Shopping from an Unprotected Site

With the holidays just around the corner, ‘tis the season to do a lot of online shopping. In the hustle and bustle to get everything done in time, 1 in 4 Americans fall prey to fraud during the festivities.

It happens easily enough if you aren’t paying attention to the e-retailers you visit in search of a sale. Thinking a 50% discount is real, you input all your financial information for items you’ll never receive, and the next thing you know, someone is using your info to open cash advances.

5. Unsecured Wi-Fi

The free Wi-Fi at the shopping malls is a great hack for those of us who have limited data, but using it could expose you to fraud.

With the right know-how, fraudsters can bug these unsecured networks and track everything you do online — that includes inputting any login credentials for social media or online banking, plus all the info these accounts hold.

What Can You Do to Beef up Your Security

While there’s always a risk of fraud whenever you go online, there are ways to protect yourself.

  • Never use unsecured Wi-Fi for online banking, shopping, or other activities that require sharing personal information — wait to check your line of credit balance until you’re at home.
  • Shop from trusted retailers. When trying a new company for the first time, type their name into an Internet search to see if they’re a scam.
  • Always hover over hyperlinks in your inbox to ensure the address is legit. Never click something you aren’t expecting.
  • The same goes for any attachment — whether it’s sent from a friend or an unknown email.
  • Use a unique 11-character password for each account.
  • You don’t have to move but beware of your risk if you live in a fraud hotspot.

These tips will help lower your risk of fraud, wherever you call home.

 

I'm Nikos Alepidis, blogger at motivirus. I'm passioned for all things related to motivation & personal development. My goal is to help and inspire people to become better.

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