Identity theft is on the rise. Rendering to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), cybercriminals did not take any time off during the pandemic but instead redoubled their identity theft efforts. The FTC Consumer Sentinel Network Data Book 2020 reports that identity theft tripled between 2018 and 2020. Furthermore, there is no sign that cybercriminals will decline in 2021. So, if you don’t take precautions to protect your identity online, you are vulnerable.
Tips to prevent identity theft
Identity theft can happen anywhere, anytime. From searching your trash for confidential documents to sophisticated phishing attacks against you online, cybercriminals will stop at nothing to steal and exploit your information. By following these tips to help prevent identity theft, you can minimize your vulnerability.
1. Eliminate your personal information from the Internet
People search sites collect as much personal information about you as possible and post it on a profile. They are like online marketplaces for anyone who wants to learn more about you, including cybercriminals. Everyone knows at a glance who you are, where you work, how to communicate with you, where you live, and much more. To protect the privacy and prevent identity theft, we recommend that you log out of these websites as soon as possible. You can do this manually using our free manual opt-out instructions, or you can use One Rep to remove yourself from 100+ people’s search pages instantly.
2. Obtain an Identity Protection PIN (IP) from the IRS
SSNs are gold to cybercriminals – these very personal numbers could be vital to unlocking your most private accounts and even allowing criminals to collect your tax returns. If you believe your SSN has compromised, you will give an IP PIN. It will secure your tax return with a unique number that only you and the IRS will know.
3. Create solid and random passwords
Cybercriminals use robust computer programs to crash passwords. They frequently start with a list of the most mutual passwords and sometimes even remove data breaches from your previous compromised passwords. The only thing stand-up in your way is a long and complicated password that is entirely random. Yet, it is the key to protecting your identity on the Internet.
4. Use two-factor authentication
Two-factor authentication (2FA) defends your accounts when criminals have your passwords. When you enable 2FA, you must confirm all new attempts to log in with a unique code that only you can access. After all, a data breach can render your strong password meaningless.
5. Protect your mail
Online privacy may be the new boundary of identity theft, but many thieves use other best practices, such as B. the theft of your emails from your inbox or the trash. All you need is a confidential document that you forgot to shred, so get your mail on time and shred all personal records.
6. Use security monitoring tools
You can’t be everywhere at the same time. However, there are many excellent identity theft protection services out there that will keep your balance under constant surveillance and alert you to suspicious activity, so you can stop things before they get out of hand.
7. Go to social media privately
Cybercriminals can get a lot of information from a public account, and many data brokers delete those accounts to complete their profiles on you. So, if you’re speculative about protecting yourself from individuality theft, this is a great preventative measure.
8. Never share too much
Even if your social media accounts are isolated, a compelling “friend request” is enough to get a scammer to access your personal information. So, play safely; Never provide overly personal information such as B. your hometown, your whereabouts at a specific time, or photos containing your address or your car registration number.
9. Pay attention to social engineering
One of the calmest ways for cybercriminals to access your information is through social engineering. For example, you can pretend you are a family member, colleague, or close friend. To protect your identity online, never provide personal information via SMS, chat, or email.
10. Check your credit report
Every year all three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian) give you free access to your credit report. Checked to make sure there are no exposed suspicious accounts and restrict existing accounts for signs of fraud. Prevention is the best protection against identity theft.
11. Beware of public WiFi networks
Never visit confidential websites over a public WiFi network – a cybercriminal could be lurking on the web and watching what you do to obtain your credentials. If you’re not using a VPN, don’t transact online or log into key accounts at coffee shops, airports, or other public WiFi locations.
12. Set up notifications for essential accounts
Set alerts for sensitive activities and stay up-to-date on suspicious behavior in real-time. Most financial organizations have options to receive notifications when transactions made, or new login attempts are detected. Always turn this on.
13. Forget the paper
It’s time to go paperless when it comes to confidential documents like utility bills or bank and brokerage statements. Log into your accounts, connect your emails, and turn off paper mail. It prevents thieves from intercepting these documents.
14. Review your financial statements
Make it your business to review your financial statements as they become accessible. A quick scan for suspicious action is all it takes to calm down or identify identity theft early on.
15. Never click on weird links
If you get an outlandish text, email, or chat message that contains a link, never click on it. Even if the news looks like an honest company, the connection could lead you to malware or a fake website used to steal your credentials. See also: Phishing emails – what they are, how to recognize a phishing email, and how to protect yourself
16. Check the skimming of the card
Some criminals “scan” credit card information through small devices at gas pumps, ATMs, or other uncrewed stations. To be on the safe side, pay at manned checkouts with fewer chips.
17. Consider a digital wallet
If you have physical cards with you, there is a risk of identity theft if dropped or stolen. Instead, consider a digital wallet that stores your cards on your phone and encrypts transactions. Just make sure 2FA is enabled. Otherwise, a digital wallet could become the master key to your finances.
18. Keep your SSN in a safe place
Your SSN can file tax returns, open lines of credit, and sometimes even access sensitive accounts. When asked for your SSN, ask why it is necessary and whether some other form of identification can used instead. See also: How do I know if someone is using my social security number, and how can I keep it from being exploited?
19. Protect your phone
If someone becomes their hands on your phone, it can do a lot of damage. For example, lots of people automatically log into their banking, brokerage, and social media apps. If your phone has no security settings enabled, a thief could easily take over your identity and finances. So, lock it, preferably with the fingerprint option.
20. Block your credit
Freezing your credit may seem like an exciting measure, but it can deter identity thieves from opening new lines of credit or other financial crimes. So, if you do, make sure that you freeze your credit with all three major credit bureaus. And remember, this measure is especially effective if you want to protect your identity after your Social Security Number (SSN) revealed.
Cybercriminals may be getting more urbane, but so are the rest of us. Knowing how to defend yourself and maintain your privacy allows you to worry less and enjoy your online and offline activities to the fullest.
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