How To Protect Your Identity


Information security means securing your financial and personal information from unauthorized users. Since many people have had their financial information compromised, four new vocabulary terms belong under the category of information security: phishing, vishing, smishing, and card scanning. It’s important that you are aware of these unfortunate scams in order to protect your identity and your personal finances.


Phishing, or spam emails, occur via email where you are invited to click on an unknown email link. You’ve seen odd email messages from unknown senders that try to lure you into clicking a link that promises you something to gain. Oftentimes the emails contain grammar and spelling errors. Click “More Details” about the sender, you will see a name and email mismatch. That’s a clear sign that you have received a phishing email. Never click a link from an unknown sender, even if it contains your name, or from a name in your contact with a mismatched email address. If you do, you will download malware, computer viruses, and/or programs to find your banking and credit card information from your computer. Mark phishing emails as spam and never click on an unknown link.


Vishing is short for voice phishing and occurs when hackers call your home or cell phone to gain your bank information. Vishing includes calls from people who claim they are from your credit card organization, your cell phone provider, or even the IRS. They may even have a legitimate-looking caller ID number to match the information they are giving you on the phone. They use fear as a tactic. Their goal is to have you provide payment using a bank card. They want to gain your card number, expiration, security code on the back, and then have you spell your name on the card. Once they have this information, they will use the bank card until they are stopped. Never provide bank information or credit card numbers over the phone. If you are unsure, ask for the caller’s name, department and return number and call the company to report the information.


Smishing, is phishing using SMS texting as opposed to email. Smishing is similar to phishing because it involves voluntary action from you to click on a link. The text message will appear from a number that is not in your contacts, or even an abbreviated number with as few as three digits. The text includes a link. The hackers’ goals are to obtain your bank and other financial information used from your phone apps. If you click on any unknown links, you are opening the door for hackers to view and use your personal information. Block smishing text messages and never click on an unknown link.

Card Scanners

Card scanners are hand-held scanners that lift information from your bank cards  (when you are nearby a scanner) without your knowledge or consent. Card scanners are close to the same size as a cell phone and they can read all bank card numbers through wallets and purses. The remedy for card scanners is to purchase a wallet with RFID technology. Card scanners cannot read cards protected by RFID. Placing aluminum foil around your bank cards also prevents them from being scanned.

Information security means securing your information. From fraudulent emails, unknown callers who hope that you surrender your credit or debit card information via the phone, text messages with infected links, and card scanners that copy information from your wallet or purse. Knowing how criminals are stealing people’s personal information is the first step in protecting your own.