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10 Ways to Keep Fraudsters From Stealing Your Identity

10 Ways to Keep Fraudsters From Stealing Your Identity

You’re opening your inbox at work when suddenly you get a message from an unknown company. It turns out to be an email from what seems to be a new online shopping store who’s offering great discounts.  On its home page it requires you to sign up asking for your name, credit card number, and password. 

Should you be alarmed? How willing are you to give your private information?

Identity theft is on the rise. The US Bureau of Justice Statistics estimated that there are 15 million American victims of credit card fraud every year. From 2007, malicious software and programs grew from 1 to 130 million in just a span of a few years. These software are also evolving rapidly from what used to be easily scanned and removed viruses, to sophisticated stealth programs that work to monitor computer keystrokes. Costing billions of dollars each year, it is considered one of the fastest growing crimes in America.

What is Identity Theft?

The term identity theft is defined as “the deliberate use of someone else’s identity, usually as a method to gain a financial advantage or obtain credit and other benefits in the other person’s name.”

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These criminals, also called hackers or fraudsters, obtain people’s personal information through various sophisticated and old fashioned methods of stealing — including skimming, phishing, dumpster diving, shoulder surfing, and remote thievery.

The rise of clever hackers with ingenious tech skills is a terrifying problem that could affect everyone’s internet and website security. All forms of devices — your home computers, laptops, and even mobile devices — are vulnerable to identity thieves. So how does one protect their digital presence?

1. Practice Email Safety

Beware of suspicious links and attachments in your email. Some thieves will send victims emails containing links that may appear to be from a legitimate source. However, these links are often directed to a fake site designed especially to collect sensitive data, such as people’s usernames and passwords. Usually, criminals send these emails during holiday seasons alongside promotional emails from other legitimate or popular websites.

2. Create Better Passwords 

How many passwords do you have for every account? If you’re only using one for everything, you might want to change some of them. Experts recommend having different passwords for every website you sign up for. For example, your email password should be different from your Facebook and your PayPal password. Securing your passwords ensures your safety from thieves who acquire information by simply hacking your email and then getting data from all your linked accounts.

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3. Invest in Good Anti-Spyware Programs

Arm your computers with good anti-virus software — and make sure that you update it regularly. Links from scams usually have viruses that can infect your computer and become gateways for hackers to control your device. When choosing a good anti-virus program, it’s always wise to avoid nefarious applications masquerading as free anti-virus software. For safety measures, always choose popular programs trusted by a lot of people.

4.  Be Wary of Phishing Scams

This form of scam is used by fraudsters to get your valuable details and hack your credit cards. Phishing is a way of acquiring personal information by fooling people to subscribing or signing up into a forged website designed to steal personal data. These scams often lure people by offering free services and discounts and sometimes by faking authority to get the person’s trust.

5. Avoid Public Wi-Fi

You might want to think twice before you connect to a public Wi-Fi.  Sometimes, cyber fraudsters will hack and use public Wi-Fi to access private data on their victim’s devices. They can do this easily by using a technique called sniffing that intercepts data packets and enables the user to see everything on a fellow free Wi-Fi user’s device. Sometimes they can also set up rogue accounts and disguise it as public connections for airport, libraries, and other crowded community spots.

6. Review Your Credit Cards

How often do you review your credit records? Once hackers have access to your credit accounts, they will steal small amounts (under 2$) so you won’t notice it at the beginning. During times when you shop more especially during the holiday seasons, hackers will increase the amount of money they’ll steal. Thus, it’s very important to always review your credit records and check your bank immediately if you see even minor suspicious spendings.

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7. Know Where You Shop

When shopping on phone, tablet or computers, make sure that you’re double checking the website you’re on. Hackers often clone shopping sites to do various phishing attacks. A good way to distinguish whether a site is secure or not is by looking at the lock symbol on the left side of the URL tab. It’s also better to shop on popular and trusted websites.

Do not ever reveal personal information to unverified sources over phone or the internet. People have reported many cases of getting phone calls from people claiming to be someone from the bank and asking for their account numbers and PIN. Immediately hang up if this happens and call the direct number of your bank company to ask if they are really associated with this number. This way you can be sure that you are speaking to a real representative and not an impersonator. Know who you are dealing with and be defensive whenever anyone contacts you asking for private identity or financial information.

8. Keep Physical Documents Safe

Invest in home safes. Safes are built for the purpose of keeping your documents and files safe from prying eyes with malicious intent. When throwing away documents that contain sensitive information, it’s best to shred the file to prevent it from getting in the wrong hands. Dumpster diving is a common method of stealing where criminals search the trash for items of use and value.

9. Be Careful of Shoulder Surfers

Shoulder surfers are people who keep watch over your cards whenever you make a transaction in an ATM bank or even online. These thieves will be cloaked as normal people, even wearing suits and looking respectable. They target people in every profession and in the most seemingly safe locations.

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They also use a lot of gadgets like credit card skimmers, tiny cameras, and may even use binoculars to look at your card details from afar. When using ATM, make it a point to shield your keypad to prevent anyone from seeing you when you punch your PIN. When in foreign countries or new places, use machines that are in public and well-lit areas.

10. Protect Your Identity Online

Identity theft protection services are becoming increasingly important. Many companies now offer services that will help you prevent identity theft. You can check out these expert reviews of identity theft protection services to know which services will suit your needs.

 Final Thoughts

Having your identity stolen is no laughing matter. This is an issue that needs to be addressed. The more people are aware of this practice, the more we can fight this crime. For now, the best thing we can do is to take a cautionary approach when giving personal information online or offline. Stay vigilant and protect your identity.

Featured photo credit: Sylwia Bartyzel via unsplash.com

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Last Updated on October 16, 2018

How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

How to Quit Your Job That You Hate and Start Doing What You Love

Everyone of us has a plan in our head that was taken over by family responsibilities, social pressure or sheep mentality. This made us a slave to instant gratification and started killing our plan and dreams.

There is a way to revive your plans and dreams and live a happier life. No amount of salary can exceed your desire to do something that you are really passionate about.

If you hate your job and have thought about leaving your job, here’s how to quit your job and start doing what you love:

1. Identify if you really want to quit to follow your passion

There could be many possible reasons to figure out why you are discouraged to go to work and start thinking about how to quitting your job. Figure out the reasons or signs that make you feel that you should really quit your job.

If these reasons are not related to your office environment or your ultimate goal is to pay your bills from your job, you should consider getting a new job in the same field. It’s better to be an experienced receptionist than to live a dream that is not yours.

2. Start with the side hustle and keep it going

Work after you get back home and build up your product or service enough to gain confidence to quit your job.

Build the website, write down the business plan, design your product, make marketing collaterals or do whatever it takes for you to start working full time on your new venture before quitting your current job.

You could also consider part-time working opportunities if your current job sucks a lot of your energy. This way you could save your energy and dedicate more time to your side hustle.

Ensure that you don’t quit until your new venture really demands your full time dedication. You might lose interest in your new venture if you fall short of survival money.

3. Save enough to pay your bills

If you need to pursue your passion, you need your monthly bills to be taken care of, without any worries. You must cut down on unnecessary expenses and squeeze in those extra bucks on your savings while you are at your current job. You should forget those weekend parties and social outings unless they’re meant for networking.

It makes no sense to quit your job without having any savings. Your new venture will not start paying you immediately. Starting a recurring deposit account is a good idea to start off with. Put aside a considerable amount every month as soon as you get your paycheque and forget about that money until you quit your job.

4. Write down your goals

It is important to have visual proof and a daily reminder of why you quit your job and started a new hustle.

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Write down your goals and read them at least once a week. If you are a forgetful person, create cell phone or desktop wallpapers of your goals and set them until you achieve them. Visual proof keeps you on track.

These goals are the bigger picture of what you wish to achieve in your pursuit to doing what you love.

For example, if you are wish to design the best dresses in the whole state, write it down. If you wish to fly to Mars, write it down. If you really wish to give up your career for something, it better be worth remembering everyday. Show it to yourself daily.

5. Make a plan

Write down a plan of action for the next 12 months. It’s like writing down an elaborate execution plan in your calendar. This could be a daily, weekly or monthly to-do list of your tasks to achieve your goals.

Learn how to make a plan if that’s not your area of expertise. Ensure that you know what you’re going to do next and not run like a headless chicken after two months of working for yourself.

Review the plan time and again to track your progress. This will give you a clear picture of your performance and your shortcomings.

Also, have a backup plan. Even great planners and strategists fail before achieving success. Ensure that you have a second plan if your first one does not work out as you predicted.

6. Get professional advice

Talk to experienced people in the field you want to venture out. Go to networking events and connect with people in your industry. Most people will help you out with good advice and good contacts.

Get professional courses in part time colleges. It could be great to network and the teachers can be of great help to understand more about the industry. They will help you analyse your plan and connect you to influential people.

7. Prepare yourself to put a resignation

Prepare yourself mentally to quit your job after you’ve realized the potential and prepared yourself to take a deep dive into your new profession.

Leave on a friendly note. Don’t make enemies with your bosses. These connections could help you further in your profession.

Don’t burn the bridges. It’s better to have a face-to-face conversation with your boss or reporting manager than sending a surprise mail.

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Tell them sincerely about your new venture and why it is important for you. Serve the notice period completely and work till the last day. Complete all your tasks as you would on a regular day. This will maintain your respect and keep your relationships intact.

8. Be prepared to get your hands dirty

As an entrepreneur, you have to do everything that’s needed to keep your work going.

You have to perform all the tasks needed to keep your new venture going. You have to be a janitor, an administrator, an accountant, a designer or a salesperson all at once.

There would be a point of time where you will have to perform tasks that aren’t your favourite. Be ready to perform such tasks without cringing.

9. Have no baggage

Don’t have a debt! Clear all your loans, debts and pending commitments before starting off. You want to fully concentrate on your new activity and not be bent down by loading your shoulders with any burden.

You would want to enjoy your freedom to work incessantly. No distractions whatsoever are allowed to come close to you when you are fully involved in the rhythm of development. Shun away materialism!

10. Don’t be in two minds

It’s good to analyze the best and the worst possibilities in your head, but it’s not at all good to doubt yourself.

Move ahead with confidence. It’s your life, your plan and your rules. Nothing and nobody can stop you from doing what you wish to do.

The more you start getting noticed, the more people will point fingers at you. Don’t let them affect you and create doubts in your head. As William Shakespeare said,

“Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt.”

11. Learn to handle failure

You are going to be a loser and it’s a good thing! If you fail and lose, you will learn to not repeat your mistakes and make yourself stronger with every punch you throw out.

It takes time till you start losing. The key is to not be demotivated by failure. The more the failure, the more closer you are to success.

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12. Try your hands at investing in stock market or cryptocurrency

It’s a good way to keep your side income rolling in. While you are busy building your dream project, you could invest your money in the stock market or cryptocurrency and let it grow while you sleep.

As Warren Buffet famously quoted,

“If you don’t find a way to make money while you sleep, you will work until you die.”

Find a good stock broker who has enough experience to not lose your money. Stop immediately if you are losing a lot of money. Don’t burn away your money.

13. Keep a healthy routine

It’s easy to forget about your health when you are working on something that you’re really passionate about. Set reminders about your health routine.

Exercise! Most successful people start their day early and take time out to exercise at least thrice a week. It helps you give more energy and time to your work.

Always remember that you started your new venture to be happier. Bad health will not let you enjoy your success.

Join yoga classes or learn meditation from youtube. Avoid sitting too long at one place for more than 15 minutes at a stretch, take breaks. take a walk, especially up-down the staircase as much as you can to skip age related joint pains and muscle atrophies.[1]

14. Enjoy your days off

Taking a break helps your creativity and clears your mind from clutter. You need your days off to come back afresh and take on your tasks. You can’t be working 24/7.

Remember that being able to take your days off is one of the beneficial quirks of an entrepreneurial journey. You can have a routine designed by yourself, for yourself.

Take your days off when you are too stressed and can’t think straight. Self-discipline might sound simple but practice takes ages. Schedule down time for yourself.

15. Take these steps to quit your job without burning bridges

Resume.io has this infographic about the steps you should take after you’ve decided to quit your job:[2]

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    16. Remember why you quit your job

    Lastly, remember why you quit your job and started doing what you love. There would be bad days that will make you regret your decision, but don’t let them dominate the reason why you took the plunge.

    Your soul wasn’t happy with what you were doing. Your new venture is what you always wanted to do.

    Never forget that.

    If nothing works out, you could still go back to any job you want, but at least, you’d be spared from regrets and constantly arriving “What if?” question in your head.

    So, start now and live without any regrets.

    Execution matters more than thought. Turn your dream into a reality starting today. Start small and grow big.

    Besides, it’s never too late to do what you want to do. Here’s the proof:

    How to Start Over and Reboot Your Life When It Seems Too Late

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

    Reference

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