In today’s online world, data breaches are almost a daily occurrence. In the last year there have been some whoppers, like the Equifax breach in 2017 that left 145 million Americans and thousands of Canadians vulnerable to identity theft.
“Frankly it’s just a way of life in 2018 and going forward,” said Matt Schulz, chief industry analyst at CompareCards.
Last year Yahoo admitted that all 3 billion email user accounts were impacted by hacks that exposed private information that could be used to steal their identity.
On Sept. 28, a hack on Facebook allowed outside parties the ability to control 50 million accounts.
And if that isn’t enough, hackers also try to trick individual users to click on links to take over their computer. It’s called ransomware.
“Then the next thing you know I had my bank calling me saying it was compromised and to close everything down immediately,” said Rebecca, who didn’t offer her last name because she was exposed to identify theft three years ago.
All of the news about online vulnerability has prompted consumers to start paying more attention to their own security.
A new survey by CompareCards indicates that in the last 12 months, consumers have taken some kind of action to protect themselves.
o 65 per cent started looking at online bank and credit card statements more often in the past year
o 51 per cent looked at their credit score
o 37 per cent reviewed their credit report
o 50 per cent set up alerts to be notified when charges appear on their credit card
“What people really need to do is they need to take time to start building identity theft protection checks into their own routine,” Schulz advised.
In addition to monitoring your accounts, you can also set up alerts with Canada’s credit reporting agencies to notify you if there are any changes to credit file. There’s a fee for that unless you’ve been the victim of fraud. However, unlike our American counterparts, TransUnion and Equifax don’t allow you lock and freeze your account to prevent credit fraud on your account.
“It’s my data. It’s my information and if I don’t want anybody looking at it. I should have that right to do it,” said Neil Halldorson in response to last year’s Equifax breach. He says it’s time lawmakers in Canada provide more protection to consumers.
But until that happens, you need to constantly monitor your accounts, change your ATM PIN regularly and consider two-factor authentications to log into your accounts. Apps that generate those codes are much more secure than your phone because thieves have found ways to hijack your phone numbers by impersonating you to your mobile carrier.