Here’s a terrifying fact: anyone with a Social Security Number is vulnerable to identity theft.
Identity theft is a crime that occurs when a person’s identity is stolen with the intent of making fraudulent transactions or purchases in the victim’s name. There are many types of identity theft, such as financial or medical. The damages caused by identity theft can cost a person thousands of dollars or even their reputation.
According to Javelin Strategy, there were 14.4 million victims of identity theft in 2018, with mobile phone account takeovers on the rise. Data breaches also expose millions of private records such as login data and credit card information. Clearly, the threat of identity theft needs to be taken more seriously.
We’re here to help you. We’ve listed some tips and tricks for you to reduce your risk of identity theft.
1. Freeze your credit
If you’re worried about getting your identity stolen, you can always do a credit freeze. Freezing your credit with the three major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) limits access to your credit report, which will automatically block cybercriminals from opening new lines of credit in your name and from making charges on your existing accounts.
Freezing your credit is completely free and doesn’t affect your credit score in any way.
2. Use fraud protection services
If you want more thorough protection than a credit freeze, fraud protection or identity theft protection services are a convenient method of protecting yourself from identity theft. Fraud protection services offer a variety of services such as credit monitoring, Social Security Number monitoring, privacy protection, and insurance plans, all for a monthly or annual fee.
Fraud protection services work fast. As soon as they detect any funny business on your accounts, they will quickly notify you about it. They can also help you recover any financial losses through their insurance. It’s the perfect solution for people who do not have the time to monitor their credit reports.
3. Change your passwords
Passwords are your first line of defense from cybercriminals. Picking a weak password can make you more vulnerable in case someone tries to steal your identity. Complex passwords made up of a random combination of letters, numbers, and symbols are the way to go, along with two-factor authentication for extra security.
Obviously, you should not use just one password for multiple accounts. You might need a password manager to keep track of these hieroglyphic passwords, but it’s worth the added hassle in the long run.
4. Beef up your cybersecurity
Cybersecurity doesn’t always mean putting up firewalls or antivirus software. There are other ways to dodge hackers on the web. For starters, avoid using public WiFi as much as possible, as these connections are not always secure. Use an HTTPS extension on your web browser to ensure that your connection is encrypted. Be on the lookout for phishing scams and don’t click on random links and popup ads.
The default settings on your social media accounts are usually set to the lowest tier of protection and can be viewed by anyone, so you might want to adjust your privacy settings on your social media accounts. We also suggest limiting the personal information that you share and who you share it with.
Taking these preventative measures may feel like an overreaction, but it’s always better to be safe than sorry. After all, your professional reputation and finances could be at stake, so you have to be cautious and guard your identity. After all, you never know who could be watching.
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