Often times, when thinking about saving money, we consider that which makes us thrifty spenders. What we may not always consider, however, is the importance of keeping that hard earned money safe from predators. After all, what good is saving a few bucks in your bank if then at some point you are tricked into throwing it away? Scams come in many forms: identity theft, putting items on sale that were above average price to begin with, and receiving false solicitations to name a few. We want people to be honest, but we know not all are. So, for that, we look to ways to protect our money and assets.
You could sign up for one of those programs that offer to back up all your digital information on some remote server. Okay, that’s fine if your hard drive gets wiped out by a virus or what not; but, if information is stolen and not erased, having a backup won’t prevent the thief from using said information for personal gain. Perhaps another program that promises to protect your ID is in order; insurance for your identity. Such programs are highly effective; except that you’re shelling out a monthly installment to this company to protect against something that may never occur. Could you be victim of identity theft or other scam? Certainly, thousands upon thousands of Americans fall prey to it every day. Nonetheless, there are simpler ways to protect yourself; ways that don’t cost a penny.
When it comes to solicitations, ask yourself, “Do I need this?” Businesses have become very sly about how they approach consumers these days. They’ve researched who to target, when to target, and how to target. When confronted by a solicitation, no matter how seductive or how reassuring the offer; again, ask yourself, “Do I need this?” Taking the moment to think it over, in any situation, will more than likely save you unnecessary spending in the long run. If you want to go the extra mile, most businesses have some track record with Consumer Reports or Angie’s List or Attorney General or perhaps a registration with the Better Business Bureau.
As with identity theft, a huge concern in today’s technological age, following some simple rules can greatly, if not eliminate, the threat of identity theft. You have email and Facebook and bank accounts and valuable documents etcetera all stored away on your computer. For starters, have a different password for each and every online account you have. Make each password vastly different and complicated, using a combination of letters, symbols, numbers, and caps. Make a list of each password and their corresponding website onto a tablet of paper, and keep that list somewhere safe such as a locked desk drawer. The point of this is that if some hacker, by some miracle, does manage to figure out or steal one of your passwords, only one account is compromised, not all of them. Also, never tell anyone your password to anything. Passwords are like secrets, tell someone and it’s all over. Next, always be sure to have the latest in anti-virus, anti-spyware, updating it frequently. Be aware of phishing. Phishing is a seemingly innocent attempt by a thief to gain your trust, get your guard down, and swoop in for the kill. Not literally of course, but you get the point. Suspicious emails or friend requests or harmless links or even phone calls are spammed out by the millions ever minute of the day. The general rule of thumb here is if you don’t recognize the sender, it’s probably a phishing attempt by a hacker or some other form of thief. If you receive something questionable, verify the sender first, and never ever relinquish anything personal. Someone wants your social security number? Know as much as you can about who they are, and have them read what they have for that number versus you giving it to them.
Thieves, in general, are cunning and will prey on your fear and ignorance. Defend yourself with knowledge. That includes reading every detail of a document before signing, doing a background check on a company or individual, and staying tight-lipped with personal information. Do this all while humming the “Do I need this?” mantra and you’ll find that protecting your money is equally valuable as saving your money.