Identity theft results from different types of cyber-attacks. It is one of the most common byproducts of Internet scams, and users aren’t always aware that they’ve become victims. Once they leave their personal data on a sketchy website, the users are already putting their privacy at risk. Namely, their data will likely end up on the Dark Web and be sold to scammers, who’ll use their identity for stealing or other malicious activities.
The risk of identity theft has significantly increased with the pandemic and the additional use of digital sources for personal or business activities. Hackers took advantage of insufficient cybersecurity measures and the users’ recklessness, which resulted in more credit card, Social Security number, and account thefts.
Most users realize that they’ve become victims of identity theft once their accounts have been charged with significant amounts of money or once their names have been associated with illegal activities.
In this article, we’ll talk about the best ways to protect yourself from attacks leading to identity theft and similar inconveniences that could affect your privacy. Let’s begin.
What is Identity Theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone steals your sensitive data and uses it to impersonate you in order to perform different illegal activities. Scammers that take advantage of stolen identities aim to drain your bank accounts, use your credit cards to purchase things, open credit accounts, steal your tax refund, use your insurance data to get medical treatments, and pose as you in other situations.
Identity theft results from data breaches and cyber threats, like phishing, where the victim is unaware of the potential consequences, like financial disaster and other dangerous things. The following section will guide you through the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft and secure your system to the fullest.
Update Your Passwords
Passwords open the door to different cyber threats, including the ones associated with identity theft. Unfortunately, users don’t pay enough attention to the passwords, which is why they create weak, easy-to-break phrases that are supposed to protect their sensitive accounts. However, threats like brute-force attacks and similar can easily crack your password and pave their way to your essential data and accounts.
One of the best ways to secure your passwords and make sure no one can exploit them is through a reliable password manager. A password manager is a tool that allows you to create, save, and share your sensitive passwords in a more secure way. It allows teams to craft strong, impossible-to-break passwords without worrying that someone could steal or crack them. Besides paid solutions, which tend to offer more features, you can opt for the free ones, as well.
Besides using a password manager, it’s crucial to change and update your passwords from time to time. That way, you’re adding an extra layer of protection to your sensitive accounts, mitigating the risk of identity theft.
Do Not Reveal Your Personal Information to an Unreliable Source
Sketchy websites and phishing emails are created to look legitimate, hooking the users into revealing their sensitive data to scammers. It often includes IDs, Social Security numbers, insurance data, credit card information, photos, and other information that comes in handy when stealing identities.
It’s highly recommended to stay away from suspicious emails and unknown sites that require your personal information. If you’re not sure whether the email you received is really from your bank or an institution you trust, don’t do anything until you confirm that the message you received is legit and authentic.
Stay Away from Unsecure Websites
If you notice that a site you access starts with HTTP instead of HTTPS, it’s better to leave it. Those sites don’t have an SSL certificate that encrypts the data you send to a server, leaving it exposed to hackers and Internet scammers.
Filling in the forms on the sites that lack SSL certificate exposes your data to an unreliable source, increasing the possibility of becoming the next victim of identity theft. Luckily, search engines notify you when the site is not secure, allowing you to make the right decision before the damage has been done.
Monitor Your Online Accounts
By monitoring your online accounts, you can detect any unusual activity and react on time to prevent any further inconvenience, including fraud. It’s recommended to keep up to date with your financial accounts by setting push notifications or alerts that would notify you about the most recent activities on your account, including suspicious transactions and log-ins.
By having an insight into what’s happening with your online accounts, you can prevent any severe damage or exposure that could lead to identity theft. And don’t forget to set a multi-factor authentication to ensure no one but you can access your account, even if they have your login credentials.
Avoid Public Wi-Fi
While public Wi-Fi comes in handy when we’re out of our cellular data, it’s not the safest way to browse the Internet or perform transactions. Open Wi-Fi networks are open to anyone, which means that scammers connected to the same network as you can eavesdrop and intercept the communication between you and the site. Such exposure can make you a victim of identity theft or other Internet scams that leave long-lasting consequences on your privacy and other vital aspects of your private and professional life.
Keep in mind that even legitimate, corporate Wi-Fi networks can be hacked and intercepted. So, to reduce the risk of identity theft and cyber threats that originate from Wi-Fi networks, it’s essential to use VPN. The virtual private network uses encryption to keep you safe from eavesdropping or hackers’ attempts to steal your sensitive data while using a Wi-Fi Internet connection.
Prevention is the best way to deal with cyber threats and protect yourself from becoming a victim of identity theft. Install proper antivirus programs, update your passwords, and be careful when searching the web. Cyber threats are becoming more and more severe, and recovery may take a lot of time. So, invest in your security and cyber education – you cannot go wrong with that!