7 Ways to Shield Yourself from Identity Theft
If you have ever been a victim of, or know someone who has been a victim of identity theft, then you know that the experience can be a traumatic one. Cyber hackers can tap into your personal accounts, stealing invaluable information that can leave you out in the cold. Whether it be stolen bank information and a drained account, captured credit card information with a maxed out limit, or even a car loan note taken out in your name, it is never fun. Identity theft will leave you feeling taken advantage of, vulnerable and paranoid – not to mention exhausted.
Identity theft is nothing new to our society, as it has been going on for many years. Though identity theft offline dates much further back than online identity theft, we have seen in the past few years a significant spike in identity theft via the World Wide Web.
Online identity theft is much easier for a thief as they can perform the deed from the comfort of their own home. So what does that mean for you? It means that the burden of protecting your personal information falls on you. In addition to keeping your antivirus software up to date, there is more that you can do to keep yourself and your persona safe.
Here are 7 ways you can protect yourself from identity theft.
1. Avoid Phishing Sites
Phishing websites are those that appear to be that of a legitimate business, but in reality are bogus sites just looking to collect personal information. Some are just looking for a seemingly innocent username or password, however others might be in search of your address, social security number, or other vital personal information. If an unfamiliar site asks for any of the following information, proceed with caution:
- Credit card number
- Social security number
- Bank account number
- Driver’s license number
- Phone number and/or home address
- Health insurance info
In some cases, the request for such information could be legit; however, if such questions were unsolicited this should act as huge red flags for you.
2. Get Crafty with Your Passwords
Take care to create unique and creative passwords for each and every site. Another way that online hackers can steal your identity is by logging into online accounts such as your email and gaining information that way. Passwords should be a unique combination of upper case and lower case letters, numbers and special symbols. Also, you should never use obvious information to create your passwords (i.e. your middle name or maiden name).
3. Protect Your Devices
Properly protecting your devices with the appropriate antivirus software is the only surefire way to protect against malicious attacks. Key loggers, backdoors and other reprehensible programs can allow open entry to your systems, of which can be installed in a number of different ways. The only for sure way to protect your system and your information from such nefarious programs is to install both anti-malware and anti-virus software onto your devices.
4. Shop Safe
Take care to only shop from websites that you know and are familiar with. While a site may seem secure and legitimate, it is always possible that it is not. Be sure that you are confident that whatever company you are considering using will keep your information private. If you are unsure about a site’s security, you can check the far left side of the address bar. A green padlock indicates a secure site.
5. Watch What You Do On Social Media
Social media is a big part of a lot of people’s lives today. Generally speaking, that is in a positive way. However, not using caution on social media sites can easily turn this “big positive part of your life” into a “big negative part of your life.” You should always use caution when posting things to social media, as to be sure not to give out too much information. Take for example a vacation, sure, you might find it fulfilling to share with all of your friends and family that you will be spending the next week in the Caymans; but what about strangers or those will ill-intent? Do you really want them to know that you will be away from your home for that long? No way. Just use caution.
6. Utilize Credit Reports
There are plenty of sites out there that offer free monthly credit reports. You might consider taking advantage of such services. By frequently monitoring your credit report you will be made aware of any drastic changes that may take place.
7. Secure Your Network
There is a reason that internet providers give you the option to encrypt your wireless network, because you should. Of the many reasons why you should secure your wireless network is to prevent or reduce the risk of fraud or identity theft. Adding a password for your wireless network will protect against hackers attempts to access your browsing data, stored passwords, etc.
When it comes to protecting yourself from identity theft, there is much that you can do in order to keep yourself and your personal information safe. Implementing the above 7 tips into your daily online routine will help immensely in your fight against keeping hackers out. The most effective way to keep your identify safe from online malicious activity is to be proactive about protecting it.
If you have any other helpful tips to share about how to protect one identity whiles online, please share. We would love to hear from you!
Want to read up more about identity theft?
Here’s a step by step guide that will help you take control of the stressful situation of restoring your identity. It includes all the websites that you’ll need to go to, along with what items you will need to complete all the steps needed to clear your name. This resource goes in depth of all types of identity theft and ways to prevent identity theft as well.
Being a senior business associate, Peter Davidson strives to help different brands and Startups to make business decisions and strategies efficiently. He loves to share his views on the latest technologies and applications through his well-researched content pieces. Follow him on Google+ and Twitter.