Identity theft is all too common these days, and we're all vulnerable to it. Whether it's malware, phishing, or simply leaving your personal information out in the open, there are many ways criminals can steal your identity in the digital age. However, you don't have to be a victim of identity theft. In this blog post, we'll be looking at some of the effective ways you can protect yourself from this malicious act. So, grab your hat; it's time to safeguard your identity.
1) Make Your Passwords Hard to Figure Outs
This might go without saying, but one of the easiest ways to keep your identity safe online is to use strong passwords and keep them in a safe place. Weak passwords make it easy for hackers to guess your password and gain access to your personal information. To ensure your password is safe, make it strong, and utilize two-factor authentication where possible. Also, ensure your passwords are different for each account to make it harder for hackers to gain access to multiple accounts.
2) Know How to Spot Phishing Scams
Phishing scams are one of the most popular ways for hackers to steal personal information online. Scammers send emails or text messages that appear to be from a reputable company, asking for sensitive information like login credentials or personal information. As a general rule of thumb, avoid clicking on links from unknown senders, and be sure to verify the authenticity of the email or text messages. One easy way to do this is to be the reaching out rather than providing information to whoever reaches out to you.
Here's a scenario: Someone calls you and says they are from your bank and have some critical information to share. They might then follow up with something like, "Before I can share this information with you, I need to verify your identity. Can you please provide the last 4 of your social security number and your street address?" Remember, in this scenario, they called YOU. Rather than providing them with any information at all, a good response would be, "Thank you, I will reach out to my local branch to find out this information." And then hang up. Locate the number to your bank and call that number. That way, you know you are speaking to an actual representative from your bank.
3) Keep Your Software Up-to-date
Hackers use outdated software as an entry point to gain access to your personal information. It's essential to keep your software up-to-date to ensure that you're using the most secure version of the software. This includes all software, including your web browser, operating system, and security software.
4) Make Yourself Less Visible Online
The more personal information available online, the more vulnerable you are an unable to keep your identity safe. Ensure that your privacy settings are correctly adjusted on all social media accounts, and refrain from sharing sensitive or personal information. Always be careful when sharing information online.
One tip is to Google your name with quotes around the name—this way you can see everywhere online where your full name exists. You might be surprised to find some yellow page-type website listings where your address is made publically available. You can always request those sites to remove your information, and they are legally obligated to do so when asked. If you have a common name, include your street name on Google to find those listings. For example, if your name is John Smith and you live on 123 Evergreen Lane, you might try Googling This: "John Smith" "123 Evergreen". Note the quotes - this forces Google to search the internet exactly for how it reads within the quotes.
5) Keep an Eye on Your Credit Reports
One of the most effective ways to protect yourself from identity theft is to keep an eye on your credit report regularly. Your credit report contains information on all credit accounts, and it's essential to check for any suspicious activity. Ensure that you're aware of every account on your credit report, and report any suspicious activity immediately. You can do this through a credit monitoring service or simply taking advantage of your free annual credit report.
Identity theft is a real threat, and it's not something we should take lightly. However, with the right knowledge, tools, and techniques, you can protect yourself from identity theft online. Keep your passwords strong, be wary of phishing scams, keep your software up-to-date, limit your personal information exposure, and keep an eye on your credit report. By following these steps, you'll keep your identity safe from prying eyes. Stay vigilant and stay safe.