Identity theft is an opportunistic crime and it’s increasing day by day. U.S. residents lost $16.8 billion to fraudsters in 2017 and number of victims kept increasing since that. Infact, the percentage of victims increased to 8% during last year. Identity thieves take advantage of specific circumstances when your personal data is more exposed online than it should be. A fraudster can easily access your information through tools like phishing scams and the dark web. You are at great identity theft risk when your data is public and easily accessible.
People tend to speak about it as a single crime but it is very complicated. The fraudsters have a strategy to follow. They have different motivating factors as well as different types of information that they pursue to steal your identity and disrupt your life. There are different types of identity theft as for example, tax identity theft which is most likely to happen during tax season. Having proper knowledge about different kinds of identity thefts, knowing when identity theft is most likely to occur and deep insight into the problem could be helpful in building plans to protect your identity.
It’s easy to become victim in the era of advanced technology. Here are few normal habits that put you on high risk of identity theft and it’s time to break them.
- Using simple password for multiple accounts
Mostly people don’t remember multiple passwords for different accounts. So they just choose easy and simple password for every social media account. This is the common mistake by every second person. Security experts agree that weak and simple passwords are one of the most common mistakes that put consumers at inevitable risk of identity theft. A recent study shows that mostly people tend to use simple phrases of their personal information as their password and for multiple logins. It means if your one account gets hacked, it’s possible that your every other account is at risk too.
If you want to protect your accounts from fraudsters, do not use simple and same password for every account. Instead, use different passwords for different accounts and use a password generator to create different passwords (include numbers and signs with your name) for each account. If you are afraid that you might forget the password, write it down in a copy or save it in your phone. Also, change your passwords often and keep track of your logins with a password manager app. Password recovery criterion is also not reliable in the 21st century. To avoid the threats, make sure your accounts are secured.
Not checking bank details regularly
If you do not have a habit of checking your account balances, you could miss noticing any fraudulent activity on your account. Keep record of your account statements and your credit reports frequently as there is a chance you might fall victim of identity theft.
Credit card fraud is happening every day it’s better to check your credit reports after every 3 months to keep record of your activities. Find your copy from every credit bureau and check regularly.
- Over sharing on social media
You are at risk when you over share every single detail on social media and make it public. Scammers take advantage of your weak privacy settings to blackmail you. Every public photo, post or any information can get you in a big trouble.
It’s better to tighten your privacy settings on social media and do not post too much. Keep your sharing limited and make private accounts. Check account and privacy settings regularly and update the app often.
- Sending sensitive information via unsecure means
If you are sending sensitive information through email or other messaging services, you are exposing yourself to threat. Including account numbers, attaching important documents or simply common information that you would never share publicly will be a big gate to identity theft risks.
Moreover, when you delete your messages from inbox or sent folder or delete mails, that data is still accessible to scammers who can still hack into your accounts or servers. So avoid sending account number and sensitive information via unreliable sources.
- Rarely updating device software
Updates that you get regularly on your phone are really not there to create any disturbance. Instead, they are for your own safety. If you do not update often, it can leave your data open to scammers and unwanted viruses. If your devices have an automatic update setting, enable it. And if you get a notification of new software version available, immediately address it.
When you get an update about the system or any app on your phone, do not ignore it. Read it carefully and decide whether your system needs it or not. You can ignore these requests too but keep these updates in record and install them when you know there is a need.
Identity theft protection services
If you have been a victim of identity theft, there is no need to be worried. There are many identity theft protection services that can offer you help in every matter. These services can help you keep tabs on where your information is and who has access to it. Also, these protection services can scan the internet black market and public records and alert you as soon as possible if any of your information is spotted. They can also monitor your credit reports and tell if there is any change made in your account or report. Many identity theft protection services provide new users with free trials. It means you can test the service before making a financial commitment.
Many people do not trust easily and try to do it in their own way. But identity theft is a serious problem and it needs to be dealt intelligently. If you are sure you can easily handle this, do it. If you do not know what to do, seek help. Ask right away the identity theft protection services. They will guide you properly and will tell you all the directions that you need to secure your identity. Do not hesitate to seek help as it can save you from many unknown dangers.
You can also opt to protect your identity on your own if you are not willing to use any of the services. Unfortunately, identity thieves are getting smarter which means consumers have to be more vigilant when it comes to protecting their personal information and financial well-being. Although you can’t protect identity theft but you can take precautions beforehand. The process is challenging and requires due diligence but it is not impossible.