New technology and interconnectivity has long been pushed for modern convenience. Near field communication is being used to pay for things, and using your mobile device for banking is being encouraged. Although there are many benefits to ease of use there is also the challenge of security. Recently Equifax as well as other large companies encountered unwanted incursions into their systems that exposed the information of millions of people to unscrupulous hackers. So should you continue to rely on the newer technology? In the case of Equifax and other companies you do business with you probably do not have an option to avoid it. Credit reporting bureaus collect your information even when you may not realize it and help companies make a determination on your credit worthiness based on their algorithms.
So what should you do in this age of data compromise? First you should regularly monitor your credit card and bank information. It is easy to become complacent and just pay the bills, or glance at the bank account rather than digging into the details and confirming their legitimacy. Spending some extra time on your financial statements could save you money and headache in the future.
Second, you should order your credit report at least once per year (more often if you are concerned) to monitor your standing and see if anything unexpected shows up (like a credit card you never authorized). If you do find a discrepancy then contact the reporting bureau in writing letting them know the error, provide copies of supporting documentation and request a review.
Third, request a credit freeze to make it harder for a fraudster to open an account in your name, and request a fraud alert from at least one credit bureau.
Fourth, make sure you are changing your passwords regularly and make them difficult to guess. Regularly changing passwords is a good action even if you are not a victim.
Fifth, be cautious where you use your credit, or debit card. If the gas station pump seems a little shady maybe you should go inside to pay, or go to a different station if that is an option. You do not want someone to skim your card and use that information to make one for themselves.
Regularly keeping a check on your finances and disputing any unwarranted charges will make you less likely to incur fraud, and if you do your actions should keep your costs to a minimum.
Technology is here to stay and even if you avoid using it for financial transactions as you prefer cash. You will still be subject to the potential of a data breach with information that is beyond your control. Taking the steps above will provide you better protection from fraud rather than hoping it will not happen.