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10 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft

Muhammad Rafiq is a freelance writer, blogger, and translator with a master's degree in English literature from the University of Malakand.

How to Prevent Identity Theft?

How to Prevent Identity Theft?

If you’re like most people, you check your bank accounts online, buy things online, and even do your taxes online every year. While these services are extremely convenient and useful, they also make it easier than ever to fall victim to identity theft—which can happen in any of the ways listed below. This guide will show you how to avoid online identity theft by following these 10 easy steps.

  1. Create Strong Passwords
  2. Never Click on Suspicious Links
  3. Review Your Bank and Credit Card Statements Regularly
  4. Use Two-Factor Authentication
  5. Use Encrypted Backups
  6. Avoid Public Wi-Fi Networks
  7. Never Give Out Personal Information Without Legitimate Reasons
  8. Watch out for Fake Emails
  9. Consider Using a VPN
  10. Don’t Reuse Passwords

1. Create Strong Passwords

There are many things you can do to avoid identity theft online, but one of the most important is creating strong passwords.

When it comes to online security, the single most important step you can take is to create strong passwords. Most sites let you create a password using any combination of letters and numbers, often with punctuation marks as well. You may feel that your passwords are secure because they are not simple words or phrases that can be easily guessed. However, popular passwords such as "123456" or "password" should never be used. These are easy for hackers to guess and are some of the most commonly used passwords on the Internet today.

There are many different rules and suggestions regarding how to create a strong password. Some of these include using a combination of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers, and symbols (e.g., !@ #$%^&*). When you are creating passwords, it is important to make them as long as possible. The longer your password is, the harder it will be for someone else to guess or crack into your account information online.

Suspicious links are everywhere. If you receive an e-mail, instant message, or any other message with a link on it, STOP! Do not proceed until you have checked the source of the link for safety.

Suspicious links can lead to identity theft. This is when someone steals your personal information such as your social security number, credit card numbers, and even passwords.

Once this happens, you will have to spend a lot of time and money trying to recover your identity. Your credit will be ruined and you will be at risk for legal action.

If you want to protect your identity online, it is important to learn how to avoid these attacks. You may be asking yourself what a phishing attack is or how it differs from any other scam or scam attempt you might have come across before.

Here are some techniques to avoid clicking on suspicious links:

First, never click on any link unless you are 100% sure that the website is genuine. Second, look out for odd characters or symbols in the URL.

Third, don't click on any link that contains personal information such as your name, address, or phone number. Also, watch out for misspelled words or grammar errors in the web address itself. ٖٖ

Fourth, conduct a Web search for the link, and if the link matches exactly one other website that is not known to be malicious, do not click on the link. If there is more than one result, then consider clicking on one that is related to the page you were on previously.

Fifth, if you see a pop-up appear asking for personal information or telling you that your computer has a virus, close the program immediately and do not attempt to re-open it unless it is verified as legitimate by a trustworthy source.

3. Review Your Bank and Credit Card Statements Regularly

It may be a tedious task, but reviewing your statements regularly is one of the best ways to protect yourself from identity theft. Identity theft can happen at several points in the identity theft cycle. During this phase, you need to be on top of things and pay attention to any suspicious activity in your credit report. You should review your bank account and credit card statements at least once per month for discrepancies or irregular activity.

Don't overlook phone calls as well. You may get calls from creditors asking for money that you don't recognize, or from the IRS about tax information you don't recall disclosing.

Your statement will show where your money is going and if there are any charges you do not recognize, then it's time to dig deeper into your records and investigate further. After all, if someone else has access to your account they could easily move money around without you ever knowing it. If you find fraudulent activity on any of your financial accounts take action immediately by contacting the fraud department of the company in question and filing an identity theft report with the police department in your town or city.

4. Use Two-Factor Authentication

The next time you log into your bank or e-mail or Facebook, one of the first things you'll do is type in a password. You'll probably also click a button that says "Log In" or "Sign In." This is an important moment. The moment you log in, someone could be stealing your identity, and with it your money, credit cards, and reputation.

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Tighten up your security by using two-factor authentication, which means using two different ways to prove who you are when you log in from a new computer. (This article doesn't go into detail on the nitty-gritty of how to do this; for more information, check out this guide.)

The most important thing to remember about going online: If you don't already have two-factor authentication turned on for all your accounts, turn it on right now. Don't wait until next week or next month or next year. Do it now.

Password managers make this easier by storing your passwords for different sites and generating random, unique passwords for each site. But at least set up two-factor authentication before you store all your passwords in one place.

Two-factor authentication is not foolproof—no security measure is—but it dramatically increases the cost and difficulty of identity theft. Anyone who tries to get into your account has one more step they have to take, and you'll be warned if something fishy is going on.

5. Use Encrypted Backups

Most of us do not backup our important files, because it is too much work. In fact, as a security professional, I don't backup my files either. But in reality, it is nothing more than an excuse to do nothing. Simple steps are all that are required to protect your data.

Tape backups are fast and convenient, but they can be expensive. However, you can use a CD or DVD burner to make backups of your important files. This method works well if you have a laptop or other portable computer with a CD/DVD burner. Always use write-once media for this type of backup so that your data cannot be read without the proper reader.

You can also use online storage services such as Carbonite (Carbonite.com) or Mozy (Mozy.com) to make encrypted backups of your important files. These services provide a virtual hard drive that you can store your files on remotely and even allow you to sync them between computers using these services over the Internet or through corporate networks.

This protects your data from theft or loss and also helps guard against identity theft if the hard drive in your computer is lost or stolen. These types of services typically require you to purchase your own external hard drive to store the backup data on and they usually have limits on how much storage space you can use, so be sure to check their website for more details.

6. Avoid Using Public Wi-Fi Networks

We live in the world of internet and Wi-Fi is a part of it. Every day we use Wi-Fi to send emails, update Facebook status, watch videos, listen music, play games and more. So we have come to believe that Wi-Fi is very safe. But did you ever think how dangerous it could be?

If you are using a public Wi-Fi network to surf the Internet, then you are vulnerable to many threats. You can become a victim of identity theft and many other cybercrimes.

The biggest threat to public Wi-Fi users is identity theft. Hackers can steal your personal information and use it for their evil intentions. They can steal your credit card information or bank login credentials from your mobile device if you are not using a VPN or Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) connection when accessing sites like online banking. Also, the hackers can gather your personal information like passwords and online accounts details by recording all your online activities through key logging software installed on computers that are connected to public Wi-Fi networks or rogue access points (AP).

Make sure that you take these precautions while using public WiFi networks:

  • Never send confidential data over unsecured wireless connections.
  • Use encrypted HTTPS whenever possible as it will protect your data from public WiFi eavesdroppers. (Hackers can steal your private information by monitoring and manipulating unencrypted HTTP sessions.)
  • Don’t open any emails or attachments if you don’t know who sent them.

7. Never Give out Personal Information Without Legitimate Reasons

It is a common misconception that you can remain anonymous on the Internet. This is not true. Any personal information that you give out publicly and easily either through your computer or through social networking sites can be used to identify you online.

The best way to protect yourself from identity theft is to not give out any information about yourself that would make it easy for someone to steal your identity. Remove your name, address, telephone number, and other personal details from your websites, blogs, and message areas. Use an alias instead of your real name when giving out personal information and when purchasing goods and services over the Internet.

Here are some guidelines to follow if you want to protect your identity while using the Internet:

Do not provide any personal information on public websites or blogs such as your full name, address, phone number, or email address.

Use an alias instead of your real name in all of your online profiles. If you want to be recognized as someone else, then use a nickname in place of your real name. Also remove all references to where you live such as city, state, street names, etc., etc., if they appear in public places such as profiles on social networking sites or chat rooms.

Remove all pictures containing personal information from public places like Flickr, Photobucket, or any other image-sharing website. Make sure that your profile is set to private so that only those people you have approved can see what you have posted online.

8. Watch out for Fake Emails

Cybercriminals are using your name and the information they know about you to send fake emails to your friends and family. These fake emails often appear to come from you or involve an event you are known to be attending.

The email may ask for money, or it may look like a routine email. The money could be going towards anything from drugs to terrorism, but often it is sent to pay off criminal gangs operating overseas.

Cybercriminals are also creating fake social media accounts in your name to make contact with your friends and family. This gives them access to your personal contacts, which they can then use in their scams.

Here's how cybercriminals can look like you:*

  • They steal your personal information by breaking into email accounts or other online services. They can also purchase this information from third parties.
  • They create a fake profile on social media sites with your stolen details.
  • They use this fake social media profile to contact people you know and trust.
  • They get these contacts to send money by posing as you or pretending that they need help because they have been mugged while traveling or arrested in a foreign country.
  • They send emails that look like they are from you or involve an event that you are expected

9. Consider Using a VPN

If you are concerned about online privacy, you may have heard of Virtual Private Networks. These are networks that encrypt your information and relay it through a server.

A Virtual Private Network (VPN) is a way to add security to your public connection. Here's how it works: You use a VPN client software to protect all data being sent between your computer and the VPN server. The software encrypts data and sends it via an encrypted protocol, so ISPs and hackers cannot see the contents of your transmissions.

There are many VPNs on the market but not all of them are as secure as they claim. Here are some tips to help you choose one that will protect your identity:

  • Is the VPN legal? Some VPNs operate in "grey areas" and may be illegal for users to download and use in certain countries.
  • Does the VPN allow unlimited downloading? A good service will allow you to download any number of files from the Internet without worrying about whether you are going over your data limit.
  • Will the VPN keep your log activity anonymous? This is essential for keeping your identity safe. Your IP address should be completely concealed, which means that no one will be able to tell what websites you have been visiting.
  • Is there a money-back guarantee? The best services will offer a 30-day money-back guarantee so that if you are ever unsatisfied with their service you can get a refund.
  • Are there restrictions on bandwidth? If there is no restriction on bandwidth then it would be fair to say that the service would probably be fast and reliable.
  • How easy is it to use? A good VPN will have user-friendly software that you can download in a matter of minutes.

10. Don’t Reuse Passwords

Passwords are the keys to our online identities and they're under increasing attack. Some of this is due to the increase in online robberies, frauds and identity theft. Some of it is due to the increased use of mobile devices that let us do more things online.

But even if you don't instigate a cyberattack on yourself, your personal data might be exposed by a third party you do business with or by an outside hacker. As a result, more people are looking for ways to secure their personal information online. One way is to make sure you aren't using the same password for everything.

Fact: Most people reuse their passwords across different accounts and leave themselves vulnerable to hackers. Why? Because it's easier than trying to remember multiple passwords on different sites, especially when you've got dozens of accounts to manage.

Here are some tips that can help you stay ahead of the hackers:

  • Avoid using only numbers in your passwords - these can be harder for hackers to crack than letters or words.
  • Use at least eight characters - the longer, the better! Stronger passwords are more difficult for hackers to guess and less likely to be guessed by others who might gain access to your account credentials.
  • Add uppercase characters and symbols - these can also help secure your accounts. Use a capital letter at least once in each password and include one symbol, such as an exclamation point, ampersand, or asterisk.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Muhammad Rafiq

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