3 Ways to Protect Your Investments and Identity Online

Written By Mary Beth Eastman
Last updated December 11, 2020

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Identity Theft
April 12, 2019

Simple. Thrifty. Living.

In 2017, identity fraud affected about 16.7 million Americans. The number of victims has fallen slightly in recent years, but you still face significant risk from criminals that want to steal your credit card number, passwords, and bank account information.

Nothing guarantees protection from criminals, but you can improve your security by following these three ways to protect your investments and identity online.

Many criminals use dictionary-based software to hack into online accounts. If your password includes real words, then the software will probably open your account within a few minutes.

The best passwords use random strings of letters, numbers, and special characters. Unfortunately, human brains don’t remember random passwords very well.

Using a password manager will make it easier for you to choose strong passwords that criminals can’t unlock. Some of the best password managers include:

  • Dashlane
  • LastPass
  • 1Password

These applications will remember your passwords for you. As long as you can remember one password for the manager, you can access all of your online accounts without jeopardizing your security.

Identity theft protection services offer a variety of features that can improve your online security. For example, the identity theft protection company IdentityGuard (click for our review) can:

  • Search the dark web for stolen Social Security and account numbers.
  • Compare reports from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion to find discrepancies.
  • Monitor new accounts opened in your name.
  • Use artificial intelligence to discover potential security threats.

Other companies that offer similar identity theft protection services include:

  • LifeLock
  • IdentityForce
  • ID Watchdog

If you don’t want to pay for help from an identity theft protection service, then you should check your credit report annually to find inaccurate information.

Federal law requires credit bureaus to give you one free report per year, but you have to request your reports from them. Once you have your reports, comb through the details to find loans, credit cards, and other accounts that you did not open.

Inaccurate information doesn’t necessarily mean that someone has stolen your identity. About 20% of credit reports have mistakes in them. Regardless, you need to protect yourself by:

  • Notifying the institution that reported your account or transaction.
  • Contacting the credit agencies to add a fraud alert to your report.
  • Submitting an ID theft complaint and affidavit to the FTC.

You can find a more detailed guide to correcting errors in your credit report here.

Recovering from identity theft can take months or years. It’s better to improve the security of your online accounts so you don’t become a victim. Monitor your credit, protect your identity from fraud and rest easy knowing your invesment a

About the Author

Mary Beth Eastman

Mary Beth Eastman serves as the content manager for Simple. Thrifty. Living, where she is dedicated to helping readers use money and credit wisely. Mary Beth believes that access to the right financial information paired with a growth mindset are essential tools for getting out of debt and building wealth. Mary Beth has a degree in Journalism from Bowling Green State University and has focused her 20-year journalism career on putting readers front and center, carefully considering their concerns and presenting information that will help them in their everyday lives. She has won numerous statewide journalism awards. Her writing on personal finance as been featured on numerous websites in addition to Simple. Thrifty. Living, including Huffington Post and Lexington Law blog. Mary Beth resides in Pittsburgh, Pa., with her family and two rescue dogs.

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