The holiday season is upon us and many of you break out the credit cards, debit cards, and shop online. It is critical that you learn to protect yourself against identify theft.
In September 2015 the Bureau of Justice released statistics that 17.6 million US residents experienced identity theft in 2014. Identity theft includes three general types of incidents:
1. unauthorized use or attempted use of an existing account
2. unauthorized use or attempted use of personal information to open a new account
3. misuse of personal information for a fraudulent purpose.
It is important that you stay alert and take action to minimize the opportunity to be a victim of identity theft. You can do this in the following ways:
1. Strengthen Your Digital Security: Choose passwords and PINs that no one would guess and make sure you change them periodically. There are randomly-generated password programs online that are virtually unbreakable to assist with this level of security.
2. Protect Your Computer: A strong and regularly updated firewall, anti-virus, and anti-spyware will provide sufficient protection for most individuals.
3. Beware of Phishing Scams: Phishing are emails you receive that ask you for personal information. Never give personal information via an email. And beware of websites that ask for personal information.
4. Do Not Accidently give-away or sell for identity details: Make sure when disposing of an old computer that you extract the hard drive and destroy it. Just wiping it clean may not be sufficient to remove personal details.
5. Be Careful When Shopping Online: Only shop on websites that have a green lock icon that indicates it is SSL secure and has been vetted as a legitimate site. Also use a separate credit card which has a low limit on the card. And never choose to store your payment info on a shopping website.
6. Check all Statements and Correspondence: Every month when you pay your bills make sure you are looking over your statements for any unauthorized charges and report them, no matter how small. Stay alert to mail you receive at your address that is not yours.
For more information on this topic and other Personal Finance topics, contact us at Leveraging Financial Knowledge, LLC. firstname.lastname@example.org
My entire life has provided me with experiences, skills and family support that has led to starting Leveraging Financial Knowledge, LLC.
I grew up outside Philadelphia, PA in a normal middle class family. The difference – each generation had entrepreneurial spirit. My father assumed responsibility for the family business in his early 20’s, eventually sold it to become a consultant. My mother and a friend started a business that produced industrial theatre. As the economy changed they adapted the business to address corporate executive speaking and coaching needs. My sister is a freelance scenic artist. The long standing joke is that I am the only family member that earned a steady paycheck during a large part of my career.
The steady paycheck started after I graduated from Ursinus College with a BA in Economics, when I assumed a position in retail in the operations end of the business. This was the same time that computers were starting to be implemented in large businesses, and I had the opportunity to implement one of the first ERP systems in a corporation.
I eventually decided to make a career shift and went back to school to attain a Post Bacc in Accounting. I then transitioned to Public Accounting where I focused on small businesses in many different industries. I had the opportunity to provide personal service to clients from routine accounting work, to full blown audits, to Tax engagements. I very much enjoyed the relationships I built and the satisfaction of knowing I had helped someone succeed with their goals.
When I transitioned from Public Accounting back to the corporate environment, I had responsibilities for many different operational finance functions with teams of 3 - 80 people. As the shift to more and more online personal service for benefits, and on demand education in the workplace occurred, I found that as the leader of the various organizations, I was providing more hands on support. This led to a much deeper understanding of retirement accounts and insurance products, as well as employee concerns. I also was forced to develop more targeted training materials to ensure my teams were properly trained to succeed.
I came to realize that I was providing a service to friends, family and select employees that was focused on helping individuals navigate the personal finance world. It dawned on me that although there are many resources available there is an accountability element that is missing. In addition, if individuals did not have people with good financial skills surrounding them as they grew up, they were less confident in their financial choices and often struggled. I wanted to be that resource for people to level the playing field and provide the accountability so vastly needed.
Lesley F Katz, CPA, is the founder and owner of Leveraging Financial Knowledge, LLC. With over 20 years of experience in industry and public practice, Lesley is driven to share that knowledge, and motive people to take control of their financial lives.