BY sturner | Posted: Tuesday, October 18, 2016 06:48 AM
ST. LOUIS, MO -- October 18, 2016 -- October is National Cyber Security Month, an effort by Homeland Security to raise awareness for cyber security. As individuals strive to protect their families and businesses from online attacks, a growing concern is the problem of identity fraud which is having a major impact nationwide especially in St. Louis.
The Federal Trade Commission reports identity fraud occurs every two seconds. Someone right now is having their identity lost or compromised. Unfortunately many of those victims are located in the St. Louis Metro area, which, according to reports, ranks third among all Metros in the U.S.
Natalie Meyer, a Principal with FreedomID Direct, a St. Louis based ID theft protection firm, provides these tips to avoid becoming a victim of identity theft.
"First make sure you guard your online information. With the increase in shopping and banking on the web, your passwords and logins should be cleared regularly, especially if you work on a public computer. These should be changed on a monthly basis."
Meyer added that credit cards should be used for online purchases. Federal law provides better guarantees for credit card protection than other options. Use these instead of online payment services or debit cards.
Meyer advises to avoid sites that may look like a bank but are really what is known as a phishing scam. They will try to get you to enter your personal information. Ensure that you are on a website that is familiar and secure before handing over detailed background data.
She urges everyone to monitor their bank and credit card statements. Check for odd purchases, ones you are certain you did not make. "Businesses may have dozens of pages to comb through each month. Individuals not too many. Regardless these reports should be checked regularly."
Meyer recommends looking over your credit report at regular intervals. She said individuals are entitled to free annual credit reports by law. These are available from the three bureaus Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. "Businesses can check with Dunn and Bradstreet. Be aware of knock-off sites that will try to charge you for similar reports and other unnecessary services."
Your children's activities may also be inadvertently opening doors to your family data according to Meyer. She advises parents to check forms for school and social organizations, especially when social security numbers and credit cards are needed for participation. Parents should ask how the information will be used and how it will be stored to eliminate possible breaches.
Finally contracting with an identity theft prevention firm can provide a mix of preventative and reactive tools to help maintain your identity and credit. These can include fraud alerts and credit freezes. Some services provide unlimited protection without limits should your assets become compromised. Programs are available for the entire workforce as well as individuals.
"Identity theft can run the gamut from credit card fraud to loans and new accounts opened in your name. In many cases the victim will have to fight to get his or her name restored to good standing. The process can take months or even years to repair."
ABOUT FREEDOMID DIRECT
FreedomID DIRECT provides individuals, families and businesses with the ability to purchase superior identity protection products at affordable prices. Identity theft concerns are addressed with three product offerings that provide restoration, reimbursement, recovery and optional monitoring products. Plans provide customers with simple options, no pressure and DIRECT pricing. For videos, plans and other information visit https://freedomiddirect.com or call 844-253-9778.