Identity theft is sadly only becoming more prevalent. In 2016, $16 billion was stolen from 15.4 million U.S. consumers, according to Javelin Strategy & Research’s 2017 Identity Fraud Study. Add in news stories such as the Equifax breach, and you have every reason to be worried about your financial security.
The consequences of being a victim of identity theft can range from someone going on a mini spending spree with your credit card to taking out a mortgage or car loan in your name. A thief could even take out a student loan in your name.
So, how to prevent identity theft? Luckily, just as the criminals are upping their game in the cyber world, so are the protection services and tools available to consumers for identity theft protection.
How to prevent identity theft with these 5 tools
While you might think a regular credit checking service is enough, you can secure your personal information from multiple angles for little to no money. Here are five online tools to boost your security and prevent identity theft.
1. Protect your passwords with Dashlane
One of the most basic ways to increase your identity theft protection is to take control of your password. Dashlane, an online password management tool, helps you do that.
For almost every website — including important ones such as your bank account — you have to enter a password. More than 80 percent of people ages 18 and up reuse the same password across multiple accounts, according to Keeper Security, leaving them vulnerable to hackers.
This free program will create complicated passwords using numbers, symbols, and letters that are at least 12 characters long. It stores and encrypts passwords to ensure top-level security. It also has an autofill feature, so you don’t have to worry about remembering your passwords. Dashlane will even alert you if they notice suspicious activity on an account.
There’s also an upgraded service option. For just $3.33 a year, you can sync your account information across unlimited devices. You’ll never forget or lose your passwords, and the bad guys will have a tougher time figuring them out.
You can securely store credit and debit cards, bank accounts, PayPal info, and more to make online purchases safely. The company uses a “patented security architecture” that includes strong encryption and two-factor authentication process.
“I have been using Dashlane for about a year, on my home and work computers, mobile phone and tablet,” said one reviewer. “It’s reliable, easy to use and helps me keep a huge number of login credentials working properly without having to reset my password whenever I get the details mixed up.”
2. Protect your phone with Threema
Whether we like it or not, we are on our phones constantly. We can access our bank accounts, answer sensitive emails, and much more. While it certainly makes life easier, it also makes it easier for hackers to get into a vault of personal information.
Threema, which costs $2.99 on iOS and Android devices, lets you send encrypted text messages, recorded voice messages, photos, videos and files, and even make secure phone calls to people who also use the app.
You don’t need to provide any personal information to sign up. Each user is given a random Threema ID for identification, so you have complete anonymity on your phone. The app is so secure, even the server administrators at Threema can’t see the messages you’re sending.
You can use Threema across your devices, where it encrypts all your communication, including messages, group chats, files and even status messages.
3. Protect yourself on social media with Social Media Vault
So much of our social and business life revolves around social media. This makes it a hotspot for hackers to find our personal information and our contacts’ information, making identity theft that much easier for them.
To ensure identity theft protection on all of your accounts, the Social Media Vault mobile app compiles everything from Facebook to Instagram in one location with a secure entry system. You simply log in to the app to access all of your social media accounts.
If someone tries to access one of your accounts via your phone, there’s a special anti-hack feature. The app takes a timestamped picture with the front-facing camera when someone enters the wrong password. You’ll be able to see the culprit and know when they tried to gain access.
You can even choose to hide the app icon altogether, so if someone physically gets your phone they won’t know where to find your information. To gain access, open the dialer and press *8800 and hit call. You’ll quickly be back in your app and asked to enter your passcode. Easy enough.
The best news of all? The app is free and covers 55 different social media platforms.
4. Protect your computer browsing with Private Internet Access
Your phone and social media are covered, but how do you prevent identity theft with your everyday online browsing? A virtual private network (VPN).
A secure VPN, like one provided by Private Internet Access, lets you browse the internet normally, but changes the information behind the scenes so it’s unreadable by anyone trying to snoop.
Having a Private Internet Access-enabled browser prevents somebody from watching your Internet connection, and learning what sites you visit. It also prevents the sites you visit from learning your physical location.
Users can sign up and pay anonymously; a yearly membership only costs $39.95.
It’s important to remember to manually reconnect to the VPN when you want to use it. Setting it up doesn’t automatically mean it’s up and running. You can put the VPN in your menu bar on your computer to make this process simple.
5. Protect your credit with LastPass
Not only does LastPass work similarly to Dashlane by generating and securing passwords, but it can also monitor your credit. The free version alerts you when changes have occurred to your accounts that could affect your credit report, including opening a credit card or taking out a loan.
For just $9.95 a month, LastPass Premium offers credit monitoring with bonuses such as advanced multi-factor authentication, priority tech support, and 1GB of encrypted file storage. These features help make it more difficult for hackers to access your accounts.
When you receive a credit monitoring alert, LastPass Premium provides you with information on what changed in your credit report, and what steps you need to take to resolve the issue.
Constant vigilance is key
At the end of the day, it’s up to you to be vigilant about protecting yourself from identity theft, and these tools can help. By signing up or downloading one or more of these services and apps, you’ll make it that much harder for a criminal to target you.
It’s important to remember that your identity goes beyond the basics of just your social security number or credit card. Protecting your social media accounts and passwords is a safeguard against those avenues for entry by hackers.
Interested in refinancing student loans?Here are the top 8 lenders of 2020!
|Lender||Variable APR||Eligible Degrees|
|Check out the testimonials and our in-depth reviews!
1 Important Disclosures for Earnest.
To qualify, you must be a U.S. citizen or possess a 10-year (non-conditional) Permanent Resident Card, reside in a state Earnest lends in, and satisfy our minimum eligibility criteria. You may find more information on loan eligibility here: https://www.earnest.com/eligibility. Not all applicants will be approved for a loan, and not all applicants will qualify for the lowest rate. Approval and interest rate depend on the review of a complete application.
Earnest fixed rate loan rates range from 3.20% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.99% APR (with Auto Pay). Variable rate loan rates range from 1.99% APR (with Auto Pay) to 6.89% APR (with Auto Pay). For variable rate loans, although the interest rate will vary after you are approved, the interest rate will never exceed 8.95% for loan terms 10 years or less. For loan terms of 10 years to 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 9.95%. For loan terms over 15 years, the interest rate will never exceed 11.95% (the maximum rates for these loans). Earnest variable interest rate loans are based on a publicly available index, the one month London Interbank Offered Rate (LIBOR). Your rate will be calculated each month by adding a margin between 1.82% and 5.50% to the one month LIBOR. The rate will not increase more than once per month. Earnest rate ranges are current as of December 13, 2019, and are subject to change based on market conditions and borrower eligibility.
Auto Pay discount: If you make monthly principal and interest payments by an automatic, monthly deduction from a savings or checking account, your rate will be reduced by one quarter of one percent (0.25%) for so long as you continue to make automatic, electronic monthly payments. This benefit is suspended during periods of deferment and forbearance.
The information provided on this page is updated as of 12/13/2019. Earnest reserves the right to change, pause, or terminate product offerings at any time without notice. Earnest loans are originated by Earnest Operations LLC. California Finance Lender License 6054788. NMLS # 1204917. Earnest Operations LLC is located at 302 2nd Street, Suite 401N, San Francisco, CA 94107. Terms and Conditions apply. Visit https://www.earnest.com/terms-of-service, email us at email@example.com, or call 888-601-2801 for more information on our student loan refinance product.
© 2018 Earnest LLC. All rights reserved. Earnest LLC and its subsidiaries, including Earnest Operations LLC, are not sponsored by or agencies of the United States of America.
2 Important Disclosures for SoFi.
3 Important Disclosures for Figure.
Figure’s Student Refinance Loan is a private loan. If you refinance federal loans, you forfeit certain flexible repayment options associated with those loans. If you expect to incur financial hardship that would impact your ability to repay, you should consider federal consolidation alternatives.
4 Important Disclosures for College Ave.
College Ave Disclosures
College Ave Student Loans products are made available through either Firstrust Bank, member FDIC or M.Y. Safra Bank, FSB, member FDIC. All loans are subject to individual approval and adherence to underwriting guidelines. Program restrictions, other terms, and conditions apply.
1College Ave Refi Education loans are not currently available to residents of Maine.
2All rates shown include autopay discount. The 0.25% auto-pay interest rate reduction applies as long as a valid bank account is designated for required monthly payments. Variable rates may increase after consummation.
3$5,000 is the minimum requirement to refinance. The maximum loan amount is $300,000 for those with medical, dental, pharmacy or veterinary doctorate degrees, and $150,000 for all other undergraduate or graduate degrees.
4This informational repayment example uses typical loan terms for a refi borrower with a Full Principal & Interest Repayment and a 10-year repayment term, has a $40,000 loan and a 5.5% Annual Percentage Rate (“APR”): 120 monthly payments of $434.11 while in the repayment period, for a total amount of payments of $52,092.61. Loans will never have a full principal and interest monthly payment of less than $50. Your actual rates and repayment terms may vary.
Information advertised valid as of 1/1/2020. Variable interest rates may increase after consummation.
5 Important Disclosures for Laurel Road.
Laurel Road Disclosures
Laurel Road is a brand of KeyBank National Association offering online lending products in all 50 U.S. states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. Mortgage lending is not offered in Puerto Rico. All loans are provided by KeyBank National Association.
ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE (“APR”)
There are no origination fees or prepayment penalties associated with the loan. Lender may assess a late fee if any part of a payment is not received within 15 days of the payment due date. Any late fee assessed shall not exceed 5% of the late payment or $28, whichever is less. A borrower may be charged $20 for any payment (including a check or an electronic payment) that is returned unpaid due to non-sufficient funds (NSF) or a closed account.
For bachelor’s degrees and higher, up to 100% of outstanding private and federal student loans (minimum $5,000) are eligible for refinancing. If you are refinancing greater than $300,000 in student loan debt, Lender may refinance the loans into 2 or more new loans.
ELIGIBILITY & ELIGIBLE LOANS
Borrower, and Co-signer if applicable, must be a U.S. Citizen or Permanent Resident with a valid I-551 card (which must show a minimum of 10 years between “Resident Since” date and “Card Expires” date or has no expiration date); state that they are of at least borrowing age in the state of residence at the time of application; and meet Lender underwriting criteria (including, for example, employment, debt-to-income, disposable income, and credit history requirements).
Graduates may refinance any unsubsidized or subsidized Federal or private student loan that was used exclusively for qualified higher education expenses (as defined in 26 USC Section 221) at an accredited U.S. undergraduate or graduate school. Any federal loans refinanced with Lender are private loans and do not have the same repayment options that federal loan program offers such as Income Based Repayment or Income Contingent Repayment.
All loans must be in grace or repayment status and cannot be in default. Borrower must have graduated or be enrolled in good standing in the final term preceding graduation from an accredited Title IV U.S. school and must be employed, or have an eligible offer of employment. Parents looking to refinance loans taken out on behalf of a child should refer to https://www.laurelroad.com/refinance-student-loans/refinance-parent-plus-loans/ for applicable terms and conditions.
For Associates Degrees: Only associates degrees earned in one of the following are eligible for refinancing: Cardiovascular Technologist (CVT); Dental Hygiene; Diagnostic Medical Sonography; EMT/Paramedics; Nuclear Technician; Nursing; Occupational Therapy Assistant; Pharmacy Technician; Physical Therapy Assistant; Radiation Therapy; Radiologic/MRI Technologist; Respiratory Therapy; or Surgical Technologist. To refinance an Associates degree, a borrower must also either be currently enrolled and in the final term of an associate degree program at a Title IV eligible school with an offer of employment in the same field in which they will receive an eligible associate degree OR have graduated from a school that is Title IV eligible with an eligible associate and have been employed, for a minimum of 12 months, in the same field of study of the associate degree earned.
The interest rate you are offered will depend on your credit profile, income, and total debt payments as well as your choice of fixed or variable and choice of term. For applicants who are currently medical or dental residents, your rate offer may also vary depending on whether you have secured employment for after residency.
The repayment of any refinanced student loan will commence (1) immediately after disbursement by us, or (2) after any grace or in-school deferment period, existing prior to refinancing and/or consolidation with us, has expired.
POSTPONING OR REDUCING PAYMENTS
After loan disbursement, if a borrower documents a qualifying economic hardship, we may agree in our discretion to allow for full or partial forbearance of payments for one or more 3-month time periods (not to exceed 12 months in the aggregate during the term of your loan), provided that we receive acceptable documentation (including updating documentation) of the nature and expected duration of the borrower’s economic hardship.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow a borrower to make $100/month payments for a period of time immediately after loan disbursement if the borrower is employed full-time as an intern, resident, or similar postgraduate trainee at the time of loan disbursement. These payments may not be enough to cover all of the interest that accrues on the loan. Unpaid accrued interest will be added to your loan and monthly payments of principal and interest will begin when the post-graduate training program ends.
We may agree under certain circumstances to allow postponement (deferral) of monthly payments of principal and interest for a period of time immediately following loan disbursement (not to exceed 6 months after the borrower’s graduation with an eligible degree), if the borrower is an eligible student in the borrower’s final term at the time of loan disbursement or graduated less than 6 months before loan disbursement, and has accepted an offer of (or has already begun) full-time employment.
If Lender agrees (in its sole discretion) to postpone or reduce any monthly payment(s) for a period of time, interest on the loan will continue to accrue for each day principal is owed. Although the borrower might not be required to make payments during such a period, the borrower may continue to make payments during such a period. Making payments, or paying some of the interest, will reduce the total amount that will be required to be paid over the life of the loan. Interest not paid during any period when Lender has agreed to postpone or reduce any monthly payment will be added to the principal balance through capitalization (compounding) at the end of such a period, one month before the borrower is required to resume making regular monthly payments.
KEYBANK NATIONAL ASSOCIATION RESERVES THE RIGHT TO MODIFY OR DISCONTINUE PRODUCTS AND BENEFITS AT ANY TIME WITHOUT NOTICE.
This information is current as of November 8, 2019 and is subject to change.
6 Important Disclosures for Splash Financial.
Splash Financial Disclosures
Terms and Conditions apply. Splash reserves the right to modify or discontinue products and benefits at any time without notice. Rates and terms are also subject to change at any time without notice. Offers are subject to credit approval. To qualify, a borrower must be a U.S. citizen or permanent resident in an eligible state and meet applicable underwriting requirements. Not all borrowers receive the lowest rate. Lowest rates are reserved for the highest qualified borrowers.
7 Important Disclosures for CommonBond.
Offered terms are subject to change. Loans are offered by CommonBond Lending, LLC (NMLS # 1175900). If you are approved for a loan, the interest rate offered will depend on your credit profile, your application, the loan term selected and will be within the ranges of rates shown. All Annual Percentage Rates (APRs) displayed assume borrowers enroll in auto pay and account for the 0.25% reduction in interest rate. All variable rates are based on a 1-month LIBOR assumption of 1.76% effective November 10, 2019.
8 Important Disclosures for LendKey.
Refinancing via LendKey.com is only available for applicants with qualified private education loans from an eligible institution. Loans that were used for exam preparation classes, including, but not limited to, loans for LSAT, MCAT, GMAT, and GRE preparation, are not eligible for refinancing with a lender via LendKey.com. If you currently have any of these exam preparation loans, you should not include them in an application to refinance your student loans on this website. Applicants must be either U.S. citizens or Permanent Residents in an eligible state to qualify for a loan. Certain membership requirements (including the opening of a share account and any applicable association fees in connection with membership) may apply in the event that an applicant wishes to accept a loan offer from a credit union lender. Lenders participating on LendKey.com reserve the right to modify or discontinue the products, terms, and benefits offered on this website at any time without notice. LendKey Technologies, Inc. is not affiliated with, nor does it endorse, any educational institution.
Subject to floor rate and may require the automatic payments be made from a checking or savings account with the lender. The rate reduction will be removed and the rate will be increased by 0.25% upon any cancellation or failed collection attempt of the automatic payment and will be suspended during any period of deferment or forbearance. As a result, during the forbearance or suspension period, and/or if the automatic payment is canceled, any increase will take the form of higher payments. The lowest advertised variable APR is only available for loan terms of 5 years and is reserved for applicants with FICO scores of at least 810.
As of 12/019/2019 student loan refinancing rates range from 1.90% to 8.59% Variable APR with AutoPay and 3.49% to 7.75% Fixed APR with AutoPay.
|1.99% – 6.89%1||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.31% – 7.36%2||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.06% – 6.81%3||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.62% – 6.12%4||Undergrad & Graduate|
|2.29% – 6.65%5||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.99% – 7.06%6||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.81% – 6.29%7||Undergrad & Graduate|
|1.90% – 8.59%8||Undergrad & Graduate|