How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft
How to protect yourself from Identity Theft? There are many identity thieves out there. Your defences should be as tenacious because of their cause. You can continuously scans for data breaches and alerts you the second your personal information is compromised.
Find out more about the various sorts of identity theft, the hacks that are becoming more prevalent, and how effective privacy software may be in preventing identity theft.
Jump down right away to our sections on preventing identity theft, determining whether your identity has been stolen, and reporting identity theft if you already know (or suspect) that your personal information has been compromised.
You and your loved ones can avoid becoming victims of identity theft by taking a number of simple precautions. Learn how to protect your personal information and keep it away from the dark web and other unsafe marketplaces, then develop a plan of action.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft occurs when someone obtains your personal information and uses it to pretend to be you so they can profit financially.
Your full name, birthdate, address, social security number, tax ID, bank information, passwords, and pin codes could all have been stolen along with your identity.
However, a hacker doesn’t need to access all of that data to perpetrate identity theft. There are many ways for cybercriminals to steal your identity.
Although identity theft can have disastrous financial and emotional repercussions, most people don’t take personal steps to guard against it. In actuality, 81 percent of Americans claim that their bank serves as their primary source of fraud protection.
Credit Card Fraud, Loan or Lease Fraud, Employment or Tax-Related Fraud, Phone or Utilities Fraud, Bank Fraud, and Government Documents or Benefits Fraud are the most prevalent types of ID theft, and these crimes have all drastically increased in 2020.
Signs that you may have been a victim of identity theft
You may check for identity theft in a number of ways if you think your personal information may have been compromised. There are various free identity theft check programmes that can tell you whether your information has been compromised in addition to keeping an eye on any unusual activity on your accounts.
Here are some typical warning indicators that you may have been the victim of identity theft:
- Bank transactions that you don’t recall making that were not permitted
- Notifications of suspicious logins from your accounts (email, social media, banks)
- Receiving bills for goods you didn’t purchase
- Collections agents calling you about accounts you didn’t open
- Bills or other regular mail that you get go unpaid
- Medical expenses you incurred for services you did not obtain
- Loan requests are turned down
- The IRS’s warning of double taxation
- Health advantages nearing the limit and being denied
How to protect yourself from identity theft
It takes constant vigilance and adherence to a few straightforward guidelines to effectively know how to prevent identity theft and keep yourself protected from having your identity stolen. Anyone can become a victim of fraud, but those who are negligent with their personal information are more likely to experience it. Each of the following identity theft prevention suggestions can assist you in preventing ID theft and preventing cybercriminals from accessing your sensitive information.
- Use strong passwords and PINs
- Limit the information you share online
- Monitor bank statements
- Keep payment cards safe and shield your PIN
- Beware of phishing and other internet scams
- Protect documents containing personal information
- Consider freezing your credit
- Avoid public Wi-Fi networks or use secure connection tools
Use strong passwords and PINs
Never use your phone number, physical address, or date of birth as your passwords or pin codes. Identity theft is far too likely to target this information.
A hacker can also guess your pins if a friend or relative can. Make a strong password using your imagination or try using a random password generator (with a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols). Then, to keep track of all your passwords, locate a reliable password manager.
Limit the information you share online
It’s simple to share too much on social media (and other open venues). We travel there to celebrate life’s milestones and spend time with the people we love (and people with similar interests).
Social media accounts are a treasure for hackers who know what to look for as well as other sketchy characters looking to take advantage of people’s private lives through doxxing or other bullying tactics. Update your Facebook privacy settings first, and then restrict who may see your Instagram posts.
Monitor bank statements
Regularly check your bank statements for unauthorized activities. If anything suspicious shows up, your credentials have already been taken and you have already been targeted.
The possibility of reducing losses increases with the speed at which you discover the fraudulent transactions.
Anything you don’t recognise, any duplicate transactions, and any overseas charges that occurred while you weren’t abroad are all examples of strange bank activities.
Keep payment cards safe and shield your PIN
When entering your PIN into an ATM or point-of-sale portal, cover the keypad. And avoid carrying all of your cards at once to reduce the exposure of your critical information.
Beware of phishing and other internet scams
Knowing what hackers are searching for will help you recognise the risks associated with phishing and other online scams. You are better protected and prepared when you are aware of their strategy.
Protect documents containing personal information
Shred physical materials containing confidential information and encrypt digital files. And occasionally remove the cookies from your browser because there’s no need to leave a data trail for nosy neighbors and prospective identity thieves.
Consider freezing your credit
You can freeze or lock your credit if you think someone might open an unauthorized loan or credit line in your name. Both strategies prevent potential lenders from seeing your credit record from one of the three US credit reporting agencies: Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian. A lender is likely to reject any loan application made in your name if they are unable to examine your credit history.
While unlocking credit is as simple as a real-time click on your phone, unfreezing credit takes a PIN and contacting each of the aforementioned credit bureaus.
Avoid public Wi-Fi networks or use secure connection tools
Although using free public WiFi has a cost, it is not free. Every time you use an unprotected network without a security programme like Avast SecureLine VPN, your identity is at risk.
Using unsecure Wi-Fi is dangerous; instead, use a secure internet connection. In the knowledge that Avast SecureLine VPN is encrypting your data and communications, you can browse freely and with confidence on any network.
How to check if identity theft has occurred
Your personal information may still get leaked online and even end up in the hands of data brokers even if you take all the precautionary measures outlined in the previous section. Every day, data breaches occur, and the best you can do after one is to keep aware with constant data breach prevention.
One of the three major credit bureaus mentioned above offers a free identity theft check credit report service. A credit report gives a summary of your credit history and contains data that lenders have about you, such as your address, your payment history, and if you’ve ever been sued or declared bankruptcy.
How to report identity theft
Once you are aware that your personal information has been compromised or disclosed, you must know how to file an identity theft report.
Change all of your account passwords right away, and block or cancel your credit and bank cards. Your first line of Defence against identity fraud is these crucial security measures.
Identity theft should be reported like other crimes. Avoid going it alone. Both your local police department and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) in the US have procedures for handling identity fraud.
The national cybercrime reporting center in the UK, Action Fraud, will assist you. You can get started by referring to this helpful guide to reporting online fraud and scams. Take the actions listed below in the interim.
- Contact your banks and credit card companies
- Set up a fraud alert
- Contact fraud agencies
- File a police report
- Keep a record of all calls, letters, and emails about the fraud
Contact your banks and credit card companies
- List each of your bank accounts, credit cards, and debit cards (even store-specific credit or loyalty cards).
- For each card and account, locate the contact information and phone numbers.
- Call them in order of importance or area of vulnerability, probably beginning with your bank.
Set up a fraud alert
- Request a fraud warning by contacting one of the three credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, or Experian).
- The legislation requires each agency to notify the other two after you contact them. This free fraud warning is valid for a year and serves as a notice to creditors that you might be a victim of identity fraud.
Contact fraud agencies
- Contact the FTC if fraud is being committed in the USA.
- Contact Action Fraud if fraud was committed in the UK.
- Find the appropriate authorities online for fraud perpetrated in foreign nations.
File a police report
Look out the phone number for your neighborhood police agency and follow their instructions for filing an identity theft report. Having the incident reported to as many pertinent agencies as you can can aid in loss recovery and future theft prevention.
Keep a record of all calls, letters, and emails about the fraud
- Keep a record of everything you do to thwart identity theft.
- Keep track of who you spoke with about the fraud and what actions they took on your behalf.
- To keep on track, put essential follow-up dates in your calendar.
Tools to prevent identity theft
Identity theft has financial and psychological repercussions that nobody wants to cope with. The best tool is therefore prevention. The greatest methods for protecting your identity are to be vigilant online and to monitor your credit score.
- Encrypt your web connection with a VPN
When you browse the internet, it appears as though data requests are made immediately. Your personal data actually travels a long, unsafe path.
Your surfing histories, passwords, and login information can be exposed and compromised throughout the path from your personal device to a private or public network to an Online Service Provider’s (ISP) server to your internet destination.
Websites that employ the Hypertext Flow Protocol Secure (HTTPS) protocol are safer than those that do not because HTTPS ensures secure data transfer. Never submit important information to a website that is not secure using HTTPS.
Use a VPN for the utmost security (Virtual Private Network). The only surefire way to protect your data is using a VPN, like Avast SecureLine VPN.
Keep a close eye on your credit score
A declining credit score is a sign of questionable behavior. Obtain a free credit score report from a nearby credit-reporting company to keep track of your credit rating. A well-liked free service for citizens of the UK, Australia, India, and South Africa is called ClearScore. US citizens can use Experian, which will provide you a free breakdown of your FICO score, which is frequently used by lenders to determine your creditworthiness.
Applying these eight guidelines consistently to protect your credit score and keep an eye on it can lower your chance of identity theft and provide you immediate notice if it does. Internet security programmes with identity theft protection can protect you from specific malware that records your keystrokes or eavesdrops on your surfing sessions in order to steal personal information. Avoid spyware and other internet risks that target usernames, account numbers, and other sensitive personal information.
People May Ask
Q- What technique is most frequently used to steal your identity?
A- The most typical way an identity thief can obtain information from a person is by taking their pocketbook or wallet, though they can also obtain that person’s personal data online.
Q- What are the three most typical identity theft crimes?
A- Financial, medical, and internet identity theft are the three most prevalent types.
Q- What techniques are used by identity thieves?
A- There are several ways identity thieves might get their hands on your personal data. In quest of credit card or bank statements, fraudsters may rummage through mail or trash. Your information could be electronically accessed by identity thieves through unsecure websites or public Wi-Fi.
Q- Can your identity be stolen based solely on your name?
A- The short response is “no.” Which is fortunate because your name and address are in the public domain. Anyone has access to them. However, since they are public records, identity thieves can still utilize them as tools.
Q- Can a con artist get into my bank account?
A- This is indeed feasible. According to the FTC, identity theft was the most often reported type of fraud in 2020 [*]. For instance, when con artists use phishing to obtain your personal information, they may engage in one or more of the following actions: Obtain access to your bank account and transfer all of the funds