There are things you don’t mind sharing, like your favorite leather jacket or your fries with dinner.
However, there are things that need to stay private, like your Social Security number or your credit card information. When it comes to cyber security threats, one of the most common to occur is identity theft.
In fact, there’s a new victim of identity theft every two seconds. If you have been unsure that you're doing everything you can to protect yourself, and your data, from stolen identity, keep reading to see what the experts had to say about ensuring your personal information stays out of the wrong hands.
How to prevent identity theft
Before you can protect your identity from being stolen, let’s explain exactly what identity theft is.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is the deliberate use of someone’s personal data and information, typically for financial gain.
Let’s break down the nine things experts recommend you do to prevent identity theft.
1. Use password management software
“There are a number of ways to protect identity theft, but the easiest way is to use password management software. Password managers scan your passwords for anything that is weak, old, or repeated, generating long and complicated replacements. You can also set up two or even multi-factor authentication using biometrics, like a fingerprint or facial recognition for added security. I recommend getting a password manager with a dark web scan and an email scan.”
Related: Unsure of which password management software is right for your business? Check out this list, brought to you by G2!
2. Invest in protection programs
“I use Credit Freezes and LifeLock to protect from identity theft. I also never throw away documents with bank account numbers or any other sensitive information. I make sure to shred them instead! Identity thieves could go through your trash and find out important information in order to steal your identity.”
“One of the ways I protect myself from identity theft is by getting a credit report from all 3 bureaus every year. They are required to give one free report per year, and I go through each of them meticulously for information that is incorrect. I also use an identity monitoring service, which is invaluable for catching problems early. This monitors my credit report and alerts me when any changes or requests are made. It also monitors the dark web for my social security number, credit card numbers, health insurance numbers, email addresses, and physical addresses.
The final step I take for credit protection is credit freezes. I have frozen my credit at all three major credit bureaus. This means I can't open a credit card or get a loan at a moment's notice, but neither can anyone else pretending to be me.”
“The best thing to do right now is close off any and all social media accounts. This is probably nearly impossible for most people. So, the next logical step is reviewing your privacy and security settings so that your private information (birthday, other significant dates, pictures, information about family and friends, etc.) stays private and out of the wrong hands.”
“The best way to ensure your data and the messages you send through apps are secure is to make sure every app you use has end-to-end encryption. Encryption will mask all data, protecting it from unauthorized access. And, since many enterprises use social media accounts or two-factor authentication for access, relying on biometric technology that authenticates a user through facial recognition and liveness detection can be incredibly useful to secure your data.”
“I'm quite paranoid about identity theft, so I have implemented a few different strategies to prevent it. For instance, I try to prevent uploading anything too sensitive to cloud storage services like Dropbox. That’s easier said than done, so to add an extra layer of security I encrypt everything locally first with a program called Cryptomator. This means you encrypt files in a vault and then move that vault into Dropbox. It's essentially double encryption but you hold the encryption key for Cryptomator rather than Dropbox, which has the key and all that is required is a password to decrypt it.”
- Brandon Ackroyd, Founder and Cybersecurity Advocate at Tiger Mobiles
Related: Unsure how to encrypt your files? Check out the easiest-to-use encryption software that will protect your information for you.
7. Stop oversharing
“When it comes to preventing identity theft, think about the information you share with people online. The less personal information people post online, the less likely it can be used against them. Also, users need to talk to their friends and family to ensure they help maintain privacy as well. Many common security questions are based upon information that could be gathered from information posted online by users and their connections.”
“The majority of customers are still unfortunately extremely careless about their passwords - they reuse passwords across platforms or set very weak passwords, like myname1234. This means if one platform where you used your password is compromised, the combination of email and password gets known to the hackers, it is published often on the dark web, and all other platforms with the same combination get exposed. Because of this, it’s more important than ever to know how to create a strong password.”
Related: Keeping your data safe doesn't have to cost a fortune. Check out the best free encryption software on the market in 2019.
9. Don’t take the phishing bait
“Don't click on links or download attachments from emails or text messages unless you have confirmed they are legitimate. This is how hackers send phishing emails that contain malware. This often includes keystroke logging malware which will harvest your personal information is delivered.”
Save yourself the time, energy, and money by implementing these identity theft prevention tips before your personal data falls into the wrong hands. Identity theft can happen to anyone as there are many ways for hackers to access your information. Take the necessary steps and implement these tips to ensure it doesn’t happen to you.
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Mara is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at G2. In her spare time, she's typically at the gym polishing off a run, reading a book from her overcrowded bookshelf, going on walks with her rescue dog Zeke, or right in the middle of a Netflix binge. Obsessions include the Chicago Cubs, Harry Potter, and all of the Italian food imaginable. (she/her/hers)