People wonder why we have to jump so many hoops online and in person to prove ourselves through various forms of credit card verification. The answer? $16 billion.

Just last year, Americans lost $16 billion to identity theft!

That number may seem large [averaging at about $50 per American citizen], but it is only a fraction of the close to $110 billion that has been siphoned from the wallets and bank accounts of individuals over the last five years.

One would think between technology’s proliferate progression, and the government’s heavy mandates for EMV chips, that internet fraud, and cyber crimes would be declining, and credit card verifications would be getting easier. But on the contrary: in the last year, identity theft has risen over sixteen percent.

Several government entities, banks, and even credit card providers are spending their time and money trying to deter this epidemic. However, there are several things that you can do on your side to better ensure your identity and finances stay safe online.

1. Choose an Adult Password for All of Your Accounts

Let’s pretend that you own a bank, and I come to rob you. When I get to the vault, I put in the code, “123”, and just like that, I have access to all of that sweet money.

According to some large data researchers, this is what several of us are doing. Just on an electronic level. “12345”, “123456”, and “12345678” were three of the top five passwords chosen last year.

This is one of the reasons two in five bank accounts are easily hacked. It is also the reason that almost one million Facebook accounts are hacked into every day.

So, what do experts suggest? Choosing passwords that are long, a combination of numbers, letters, and symbols, and perchance most importantly changed frequently.

If you struggle trying to keep up with all your passwords, rest assure that you are not alone, and there are plenty of applications to help you both build and store your Rolodex of passwords.

This may seem like an insignificant matter, but it is one of the easiest steps you can take to ensure you are the person on the other end of that credit card verification purchase.

2. If You Don’t Recognize It, Don’t Open It

Perhaps this depends on your age, but chances are at one point or another, a Nigerian Prince emailed you an offering of millions of euros in exchange for your fiscal help with his family in the immediate. While this one is an older scam (circa 2002), email scams still happen all the time.

According to IBM Security, the volume of spam emails increased by 400% in 2016 alone. About half of these emails are innocent, but the other half contain ransomware, which is malware systems that allow hackers access to your computer, and thus have access to your information.

So, yet again, this may seem like a simple rule, but it is important to follow: if you do not recognize an email, it is in your best interest to delete it.

3. Only Borrow Money From Secure Online Lenders

Sometimes, life happens, and you cannot afford a fiscal predicament. If this has ever been the case for you, know that you are not alone: in 2018, almost half of Americans surveyed said they could not afford a $400 emergency.

There are a lot of places online you can borrow money from, but out of the ninety-five million Google results, you have to be careful how and who you borrow from. On many of these websites, you will give your bank account information to whoever is on the other side of that website, and in turn, make your information that much easier to obtain.

Make sure to check that whoever you are borrowing from is an accredited source. Look online for reviews from other people, and don’t forget to use other free sources, like the Better Business Bureau, to help you in making a sound decision.

4. Back, Back, Back It Up

Isn’t it just great that are computers, smartphones, and tablets come with so much data? Sadly, all it takes is a spilled cup of coffee to risk that information being gone forever.

There are a few things you can do to ensure your data is being stored safely:

  • Make sure all of your important documents are backed up on at least two forms of digital storage: i.e. iCloud and Google Drive
  • Purchase an external hard drive to keep your documents on or if you do not feel like dealing with that hassle, purchase an online backup service.

While this may seem like a pain while you are doing it, credit card companies and government departments require a paper trail if your identity is stolen.

5. Be Wary of Free Wifi

Free Wifi is good. The idea that you can be in the aisle at Target on their wifi and simultaneously compare prices of cleaning products on Wal-Mart’s website is a technological dream come true.

However, these networks are not just open to you. Wifi acts much like a revolving door, and if you have access to it, then so do hackers and thieves.

Make sure you have access to a private connection before doing things like checking bank statements or making a purchase of any kind.

6. Keep Your Social Media on a Shorter Leash

If you are going to hire someone at your place of business, want to see what your kid’s teachers are like after hours, or maybe see how your high school sweetheart is doing: you only have to do a quick Google search with some of their most basic details.

With social media options like Facebook used to share: our birthdays, places of residence, high school mascots, and whatever miscellaneous information we may post on there, it comes as no surprise that hackers can use this information to steal your identity.

In fact, studies show that 57% of cyber thieves start their crimes by looking up this easy to find information.

With relative ease and little effort, a hacker can have the answers to your security questions in no time: What is your Mother’s Maiden Name? What was your first car? What was the name of the city you grew up in?

While these questions make it easier for us to access our forgotten passwords for credit card verification; one must remember that it makes it easier for hackers as well, so discretion is best when it comes to how much (or rather how little) you are posting about your personal life on social media platforms.

7. Keep Up to Date on Different Credit Card Verification Safety Tips

There are thousands of credit card options these days, and several benefits that can come with choosing the best one that fits your needs.

While several of us focus on what picture we can put on the front of it, how many points we will get for filling up, or what airplane class our card allows us to sit in; it is also important to make safety and security a top priority.

Before you choose the card that’s right for you, make sure you check the company’s protection ratings.

You should also try to keep updated via news updates (i.e. saving key terms to come up in your Google News), keeping yourself informed about new challenges and policies through things like financial podcasts, and at the very least, making your accounts work for you.

Several credit card companies will text, email, and call you with updates. It only takes a few minutes to set up these services, but it could mean saving you a lot of time in the future.

The Power Is Yours

There are certain factors that we cannot control in life, and particularly, in our e-lives. However, there steps we can take to ensure that we are making the right precautions moving forward.

Take the time to protect yourself and the ones you love from being victims of identity fraud.

Most of the tips on this list take minutes to do, and yet, could be the barrier you need between you and your money lining identity thieves’ pockets.

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