Identity Theft
April 12, 2019
By Mary Beth Eastman

3 Ways to Protect Your Investments and Identity Online

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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:

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

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