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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 February 25, 2020

15 Personal Goals for Work to Help You Succeed

15 Personal Goals for Work to Help You Succeed

It’s easy to blend into the crowd at work. The majority of workers choose to settle for mediocrity and anonymity; especially if they work in a large or virtual work environment. It’s much easier to go to work every day and contribute just enough to meet your job’s requirements than it is to leave a lasting impression on your coworkers.

What isn’t easy is standing out.

By setting personal goals for work, you can intentionally work towards getting noticed which will propel you towards getting your dream job.

Do not settle for mediocrity and do not settle for anonymity. Dream big and stand out from the crowd. Here are 15 examples of personal goals for work to help you stand out from your coworkers and lead a successful career.

1. Self-Mastery

Self-Mastery is all about deepening your awareness of your skills, strengths and weaknesses. Once you identify what makes you unique and what you’re most passionate about, use that awareness to develop your skills even further.

Use your awareness of your weaknesses to identify areas of improvement. By practising your self-awareness in these areas, you will demonstrate an ability to self regulate your development and growth.

2. Being Grateful for Where You Are

Take a moment and reflect on how hard you worked to get where you are today.

How many times did you apply to your job? How many interviews did you go through? How many hours have you put in?

You’ve worked hard to get to where you are today. Be grateful of all of the hard work you’ve put in to get you where you are today.

By practising gratitude, you open yourself up to receive what’s next.

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3. Staying Excited for What’s Next

The perfect vibrational stance to be in to be actively working towards your goals is to practice gratitude for your current situation and to feel excitement for what’s coming next.

Expect better things to come. Anticipate that you will accomplish your goal and that you’re working towards your dream job. Be open to receiving what’s coming your way next.

4. Celebrating Each Others’ Differences

As coworkers, we all bring different strengths to a team environment. Introverts bring deep thought to current issues and extroverts do well in busy meetings and discussions. The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is an excellent measurement of personality differences and brings an interesting review of your team’s personalities interact with each other.

If possible, request to have an MBTI done with your coworkers so that you can learn more about your similarities and differences; or recognize the differences in your team’s personalities and appreciate that they each contribute different values to the group.

5. Using Your Team’s Differences to Your Advantage

Once you learn more about the different personalities on your team, you can work more strategically with your coworkers. Some coworkers may present as introverts who prefer to take time away to review information before making decisions. Other coworkers may present as extroverts who excel in group discussions and facilitating presentations.

Once you identify the different strengths of your coworkers, you can plan projects and group work according to each other’s personality strengths.

6. Managing Conflicts Effectively

If conflict arises between yourself and another coworker, take time to assess how you’d like to work through the situation rather than reacting in the heat of the moment.

Request a private meeting with the other coworker and present the facts in an objective manner. Initiate a practical conversation to discuss the issue of conflict and then find a mutually-beneficial solution together.

Doing so will show your coworkers and your boss you’re capable of dealing with emotionally-sensitive discussions while keeping a cool head.

7. Becoming a ‘Yes’ Person

Volunteer for new projects and special assignments. Be the first person to put up your hand.

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If your boss is looking for someone to step up, be the first to volunteer. It shows you’re engaged and gives you the opportunity to learn new skills.

8. Saying ‘No’ When Necessary

This may seem contradictory to the previous point, but this is not!

If you’re close to burnout or have a lot going on in your personal life, choose to say no to additional work if you must.

Be aware of your own mental state of wellness. If you’re incapable of taking on more, say no rather than saying yes and being unable to submit impeccable work.

If necessary, share with your boss privately that you’re not in the right place to take on work but you intend to get back on track and as soon as possible.

9. Showing Humility

It’s not possible to be perfect at everything all the time. If you make a mistake, own up to it.

Let your boss know or coworker know that you made a mistake and you want to correct it. Tell them that you have learned from this experience and you will do things differently going forward.

Practice humility so that you may demonstrate a willingness to do better.

10. Modeling Work Life Balance

Make your own self care a priority so that you’re allocating time out of the office to your exercise, health and nutrition goals.

Carve out time before or after work to taking care of you. Propose walking meetings during the day or try organizing a group fitness classes at lunch. Invite your coworkers to join you in trying a new yoga class.

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Show your coworkers that you’re committed to work life balance so that you can show up as your best self while at work.

11. Under Promise, Over Deliver

If you commit to finishing a project by a certain time, be certain that you will do what you said you’re going to do when you said you’re going to do it.

Do not commit to completing a project using an unrealistic time frame. If you’re unable to deliver, you will inevitably harm your reputation and will negatively affect others’ expectations of your abilities.

Rather than committing to more than you can accomplish, commit to what you’re capable of or slightly less so that you can over deliver on your promises.

12. Finding Your Own Answers

Rather than quickly turning to your coworkers or your boss when you have questions, do your best to find your own answers.

Review company policies, best practices and previous situations. Use critical thinking to determine how to best handle a situation and demonstrate that you’re able to make sound decisions when it’s required.

After doing your research, present the situation to your boss and share how you would handle the situation. Ask for guidance to see if you’re on the right track. By doing so you’ll demonstrate drive and ambition.

13. Asking for Help

If a situation arises that is above your pay-grade and you must ask for help or guidance, do so with humility.

Respectfully ask your boss or coworkers for their help. Let them know that you are grateful for their assistance and that they’re willing to share their knowledge. Offer to be of assistance to them if it’s needed in the future and repay the favor.

Here’re some tips for you: How to Ask for Help When You Feel Silly to Do So

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14. Offering Help

If you can see a fellow coworker is struggling, offer to help them out. Offering your help will demonstrate your ability to work as a team player.

If your workplace has hired a new employee, offer to take them under your wing and show them the ropes. Let your boss know that you’d be happy to show them around.

It will demonstrate your seniority in the workplace and your interest in fostering teamwork and morale.

15. Taking a Brain Break Regularly

Take a few moments whenever you can for a mini meditation. In the bathroom, the coffee room, or on the subway on your way to work, take a few deep breaths and center your mind.

Slow down your heart rate and tune in to your inner self. Remind yourself that work can be stressful but we don’t need to let the stress affect us. Return to this grounded and centered state whenever you feel out of alignment.

The Bottom Line

Use this list of personal goals to skyrocket your career path at work. Let your actions speak louder than words.

Demonstrate to your boss and your coworkers that you don’t intend to settle for mediocrity; you intend to stand out from the crowd and will do so by implementing personal goals and actively working towards your dream job.

More Tips About Goals Setting

Featured photo credit: NORTHFOLK via unsplash.com

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