6 simple tips to protect yourself from online crime

(BPT) - Strange texts and curious emails requesting personal information. Unauthorized purchases on your credit card. New online accounts being opened in your name. Digital crime can vary greatly and is increasingly concerning as criminals get more sophisticated every day.

The Federal Trade Commission received 2.2 million fraud reports in 2020, including identity theft and imposter scams. The FBI's 2020 Internet Crime Report stated losses exceeding $4.2 billion. Unfortunately, many experts predict digital crime to grow in the coming years, especially as large-scale data breaches become more common.

In fact, a recent survey from digital security company Aura in conjunction with Harris Poll revealed about three in four U.S. adults recognize that data breaches are serious. Further, 60% of people worry a lot about them and 53% are concerned about the safety of their personal information online.

"Today, Americans lose more money to digital crime than to home burglary," said Hari Ravichandran, CEO and founder of Aura. "While we spend billions each year on home security systems, many people don’t even take the basic precautions to protect themselves online."

Technology is an important part of daily life, so digital security should be taken seriously. According to the survey, eight in 10 people know they should be doing more to protect themselves online.

A proactive approach is the best way to keep you and your family safe. Ravichandran shares six simple ways to keep yourself, your information and finances secure.

1. Use complex passwords

Update passwords so they consist of a random combination of letters, numbers and symbols. Use a password manager to store and remember them. Continue to set up two factor authentication for your accounts and, when possible, opt to use an authentication app over text verification codes.

2. Check financial and medical statements monthly

Your financial and medical statements are often the first signs that you’ve been involved in a breach. Set transaction alerts through your bank to flag large purchases and check your monthly bank and credit card statements for fraudulent activity.

3. Monitor your credit

Stay familiar with what's in your credit reports. Order a free annual report from all three credit bureaus to make sure that data in each credit report is accurate and matches the others. Additionally, consider enrolling in a credit monitoring service that continuously sends you alerts of any changes. If you notice any suspicious activity, take action right away and freeze your credit through an application like Aura or by contacting the credit bureaus to avoid potential damage to your credit that could take years to resolve.

4. Don't ignore software updates

Hackers exploit security flaws in phone and computer operating systems in order to steal consumers' data. When a company discovers a security flaw in their operating system, they’ll develop and release a patch to users. Until that patch is installed, the user and their information remains vulnerable.

5. Tighten social media privacy settings

Many people provide personal information like their name, birthday, job and hometown on their social media profiles. Remove personal information like this from online profiles and update your user settings to increase privacy on who can view your full profile and posts. Further, children under the age of 18 are often the target of child identity theft, because their credit score is completely unmarked. Posting information about your children on social media, even just their full names and birthdays, can be just as dangerous as posting your own.

6. Don't click on links in emails or texts

Scams can be difficult to identify. As a rule, don’t click on links that are emailed or texted to you from unknown sources. Don’t respond to emails that ask for your personal information, and always be discerning when receiving offers that seem too good to be true.

All of these steps can be overwhelming, but with Aura’s simple subscription and easy-to-use app, you can have access to proactive digital security that alerts you to potential threats and helps resolve any issues. Members benefit from an experienced team of customer service professionals and a $1 million insurance policy to cover any losses from identity theft and fraud.

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