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Take These 5 Steps Now to Cut Your Data Security Risks

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To avoid becoming a victim of hackers, take these five steps to minimize your risk:

1. Think before using mobile apps

Keeping your personal data private while shopping with mobile apps can be as simple as reading the fine print. Research the app’s reputation and its policies related to guarantees, privacy and checkout.

Choose highly rated apps and check the comments about security from other users. When you download an app, read through those “permissions” before clicking “Agree.”

Even though it may be tempting to make a purchase over free Wi-Fi connections in a store or coffee shop, don’t. A public network is easier to hack, leaving your information more vulnerable to thieves.

2. Protect your PINs and passwords

Change your passwords regularly and make sure you don’t use the same one for multiple sites. Change your personal identification numbers (PINs) more often instead of relying on the same ones year after year. This information should stay between you and your financial services providers. Don’t share account information with anyone, including friends and family.

3. Monitor your accounts

In addition to checking your statements and recent transaction histories, you’ll want to get an idea of your overall credit picture. You can request a free credit report annually from the major credit reporting agencies. By spacing them out, you can check one several times a year to look for activity you didn’t initiate. Request a 90-day fraud alert at major credit bureaus and ask for a security freeze on your file, blocking access to your information so that no new accounts can be opened.

4. Track online and bricks-and-mortar purchases

It may seem tedious to keep track of all your holiday shopping receipts, but it’s crucial. Get receipts emailed or uploaded to a cloud site so you can have everything in one place. Then, if you see activity you don’t recognize on one of your accounts, you can check against those records. 

5. Use ‘chipped’ cards

Cards with microchips, also known as smart or EMV (for EuroPay, MasterCard and Visa) cards, are less vulnerable to counterfeiting or skimming schemes. The chip operates the same way as a magnetic strip does, in that it conveys customer information, but it allows the merchant to authenticate the validity of the card to better protect against fraud.

If you do fall victim to hackers and an illicit transaction is made using your information, you’ll need to take a few steps to mitigate the damage. First, immediately contact the bank or credit provider associated with the account. Then, call the U.S. Federal Trade Commission at 877-438-4338 or file an identity theft fraud report online. Submit a copy to local police to further document the crime.

6. Get a Free Reviw of Credit From Sunmark

While some sites offer this service for free, Sunmark goes one step further:  Sunmark not only offers you a free review of your credit report, as well as your score, but also the opportunity to discuss the details of your report with one of our knowledgeable staff. Our trusted consultants can explain each item, which can be overwhelming to navigate on your own.

Your representative has experience reviewing credit reports and can help:

  • Determine which loans or credit cards that could be consolidated into a lower-rate loan
  • Identify ways to pay down your debt
  • Guide you on the right track to raise your score 

Schedule a free review here

Completely eliminating hacker and online fraud threats may not be possible, but taking these key steps can help you be more secure.