Identity Theft is a major concern for whoever maintains an active online presence via social media or via online retail and banking activities. Online mediums and platforms have certainly made our lives easier. None has to visit banks anymore, or even go to grocery shops for the smallest items in the household. Almost everything, from daily use products to luxury services is available online. But to avail this privilege, one must provide these online vendors and service providers with certain personal information to apparently cater your needs in a better manner and to personalize and smoother your online experience. Although all this information is saved on the concerned vendor’s secured cloud space and is accessible with a personal password; however, your activities leave certain traces which can be used to access this information via invalid means. For hackers and cyber thieves, breaching cloud security is not a difficult task if they take the right steps, and if they get hands on your personal information, it’s hard to imagine at what lengths that information can be used against your interests.
How To Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
So, to ensure that your identity online is protected by all means, you go to ensure some precautions and be aware of some measures that can protect you from identity theft. Here are some best possible ways you can make sure that you are protected from identity theft attempts online.
1. Check Your Accounts and Credit Reports Regularly
For hackers and identity thieves, your credit card payments and online accounting details are the most suitable targets. These activities can reveal your financial status and can allow them access to your bank accounts, which may not only cost you your information but your money as well. So, you need to make sure that you constantly monitor your credit reports. Keep a track on payment activities to make sure that any unauthorized access hasn’t been granted into your credit account.
2. Your Social Security Number Should Be Your Treasure
Social Security Number or any identity card or number that is recognized by your home nation is not something you share with everyone. There’s a reason that these ID numbers or cards are personalized. Just red flag any site or any online platform ask you to enter your SSN or national identity details. It’s a definite scam.
3. Passwords: Make Them Complex, Don’t Share Them, Avoid Repeating Them
Passwords are the digital keys that are barriers between your online treasures and the thieves ready to snatch it all. So, to protect yourself from identity theft, you need to make sure that you do not share your password to your mail accounts with anyone. To add an extra layer, make your passwords complex to replicate. Most hackers go for trial and error methods to breach into your online gateways. They use hundreds of combinations given by their software tools to hijack your account. So, add special characters, mixed cases, and numerals to your passwords to make their job hard.
Plus, avoid repeating your passwords. We all use our emails for registering on online game profiles, social media sites, online retail sites, and banks. Make sure password to all these different third-party sites are different. Because this way, you won’t lose everything at once if your account is hijacked.
4. Don’t Click on Unidentified Advertisement Links
A number of malicious files are embedded in advertisement links and attachments that we see on side of different webpages. These links may redirect you to a page with a computer virus or with steganographic images that would download a malicious file in your system and then extract your details and saved passwords.
5. Look Out for False Mails and Illicit Attachments
In case of mail attachments, it’s better to look for spelling errors in the body content and look for domain names in the sender’s mail addresses. In case of malicious activity, the mail addresses and domains would be either mixed up names or irrelevant to what the subject of the mail is about. Avoid clicking on links that lure you via offering you illicit offers in regard to application of credit cards, cash back, and shopping vouchers. The valid information on such offers is never sent exclusively to you via mail. Such emails account for phishing attacks and can be harmful to your identity online.
6. Look Out For Unsafe Website Addresses
You must have noticed that a website address starts with “HTTPS” or “HTTP”. Now, while the former stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure, the latter stands for HyperText Transfer Protocol. The difference of “Secure” says it all. Both of them are procedures of exchanging information between two networks or computers. So, when you access an HTTPS site, the information exchanges are encrypted with a code. If anyone breaches the exchange, he/she won’t be able to read the encrypted code. However, the information is always readable if a website used HTTP procedure. So, make sure that any website that you use have an HTTPS information exchange procedure, especially e-retail, banking, and social media sites.
7. Buy Credit Reports
You are allowed to get three credit reports annually from each of the three credit bureaus, that are, Experian, Equifax, and TransUnion. Apart from that, it is recommended to buy more credit reports from the bureaus, to ensure that your accounts and credit activity details are protected from identity theft.
8. Not Emptying Your Trash Is A Mistake
Protecting yourself from identity theft requires you to keep a check on all files on your system and this includes trash files. Identity Thieves look into the file to breach your systems and access details from trashed files that may contain your tax details, account details, identity cards, or specific licenses.
9. Don’t Use Pharming Websites or Applications on Your Devices
Pharming Websites are basically what we call in general, hack-apps. A good example of a pharming application is Instwogram, a hack-app for Instagram. Other pharming sites and applications are designed to help people access Pro versions of their original counterparts without actually paying for them. People download these applications and then access them using their original IDs and profiles, just to have a glimpse of an upgraded version for free. These applications are not approved and there’s no way you can know the details of developers. So, basically, you are handling your details to some imposter for that matter, who now have your IDs and passwords, and can easily steal details from your accounts. That’s not how you protect yourself from identity theft.
10. Keep a Regular Check on Your Health Records and Medical Insurance Records
Look out for unauthorized or unrecognizable changes in your electronic health records. Most hospitals have now begun to provide portal access to patients, where they can log in to view information on their treatment records, their medical insurance details, and their medical bills. Keep a check of the portal activity on email as well; the notification alerts on emails would let you know of any unwanted access to your patient portal.
11. Go Social, But Don’t Let All of It Out
Social media is not just a place to connect with people anymore but has become a place of influencer marketing, profile promotion, microblogging or blogging, and expansion of consumer base. Since social media has become a business market as well, it has also become a major target of hackers and identity thieves. So, make sure that you do not publish extensive detail regarding your online presence on social media. For example, your phone number, date of birth, and frequent location updates can reveal a lot about you. And these things are not something that you need to publicly reveal on social media platforms. To protect yourself from identity theft, it’s important to rectify your social media activities and keep them limited to your interests only.
12. Use VPNs and Avoid Public Wi-Fi
VPN or Virtual Private Network allows you to secure your IP address in case you are using public Wi-fi networks available in public parks, subway stations, and libraries. On the other hand, better use secured and known Wi-fi networks rather than accessing public ones to have better protection from identity theft.
13. Use Identity Protection Tool to Safeguard Your Accounts
You can always use an identity protection tool to protect your accounts and online information. These software scan your possible identity information that could be stored in various locations on your computer.
In this regard, Advanced Identity Protector is one of the finest tools that can keep your accounts safe and protect your identity against potential attempts of theft and hijacking. Advanced Identity Protector help you secure your accounts by regular scanning the web for the traces of your information on unauthorized domains and by securing your passwords. The Advanced Identity protector also scans for stored credit card information and protects it from theft. Here’s what Advanced Identity Protector offers to protect you from identity theft:
- Scanning the Web for possible leaks of your identity traces and their presence or availability on some illicit domain.
- A Secure Vault to keep your passwords, usernames and IDs protected from phishing attacks and hijacking.
- Scans email and attachments for sensitive information.
- Scan all formats of files and documents for traces of identity theft.
- Scans the entire Windows Registry for any identity traces.
You can learn how to use Advanced Identity Protector as a tool to keep yourself protected against identity theft here.
It’s important in this tech-driven world that the online presence of every individual is protected by all means. Since cyber-attacks are difficult to trace and so are the attackers, every precaution you take is less. You now know of all the possible ways of how you can protect yourself from identity theft. It’s important to beware of all kinds of attempts of identity theft on your accounts and keep yourself safe from having your details leaked to some illegal portal.