If you’re like most people, you take care of most of your finances online these days. While you might have once been hesitant about online banking or typing in your credit card number to buy that sleek new laptop, now, you’ve probably come around to thinking nothing of depositing checks using your smartphone, or even filling out applications that require your social security number. What’s more is that you probably use cash less often, relying on your credit and debit cards for everything from coffee runs to major purchases to online vacation booking. During peak shopping holidays or tax season, even more financial information is making its way through the postal system on online networks. All of these activities make you a prime target for identity thieves and financial fraudsters.
Unfortunately, much of this is out of your control, as the numerous data breaches that have happened in the last few years have illustrated. In 2014, there were 1,540 data breeches worldwide — up 46 percent from the prior year – resulting in potential access to one billion data records, according to CreditCards.com. More than 31 million U.S. consumers actually reported that their credit cards were compromised that year. In the wrong hands, your Social Security number, credit card account information or any other personal data can become a goldmine to a financial thief. Although some of those things are out of your control, it doesn’t mean you can’t be proactive about protecting yourself. To read all about this topic, visit our sister site, Living on the Cheap.