How to Guide: Avoiding Identity Theft

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Our lives are extremely wired in. Almost all aspects of who we are, are plugged into something or the other in the digital world. But that identity that we plug into everything we use can become putty in someone else’s hands if we are not careful about it.

Identity theft can do a lot of damage to your finances, and even hit your credit pretty hard if you aren’t careful. An identity thief can take control of your bank accounts, payment logins with sites such as PayPal and a whole lot more. They can further open up entirely new accounts in your name and send you the bill when they’re done living your life. Within 2013 alone over 13 million people fell victim to identity theft. In the same year there were over $18 billion reported in loses due to the criminal offense.

How to Avoid Identity Theft

Start by being more careful about how you are using your information. Guard your information with your life and don’t use the wrong kind of information at the wrong place. For instance, using your social security number as your ID is an extremely bad idea. Most banks let you access your account with the SSN alone. Make sure you develop a habit of never doing this, and make sure your bank knows. The SSN is the easiest thing an intruder can get their hands on. Also make sure you don’t go around giving out your SSN whenever asked, unless it is absolutely necessary withhold sensitive information such as this.

If a lot of your information is online then make sure that it is well protected. You should have extremely strong passwords on all such data, and it doesn’t stop there. You also need to enable multifactor authentication wherever it’s an option. Of course having a good password isn’t enough, updating it after every few weeks will get you through many a tough time.

Be careful about your email inbox. There is a chance that there’s a malicious email sitting in your inbox and you don’t even know it. Whenever an email asks for personal information, ignore it and confirm from the source directly if such a request was made. Do not ever click on links, instead hover your mouse over them to confirm that they’re from the address they claim to be from.

Constantly update your protection services whether it’s a firewall or an antivirus. If you are not vigilant about your PC’s or phone’s safety then you have no one to blame but yourself. You also need to be careful to avoid OS and program versions that firms no longer support or push out updates for. For instance, using Microsoft XP is a surefire way to get yourself into trouble because support for the OS ended earlier this year.

In general just implement intelligent practices online. You can never completely eradicate the risks associated with the digital world, but what you can do is try to a bit more careful so that you can steer clear of most forms of malicious code and software.

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