Identity Theft: Tips for Staying Safe

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Identity theft isn’t at all new. It has been around for as long as digital devices and services have been around, but the kind of damage it can do these days is nowhere near as bad as it used to be. One simple reason for this is because we have never put up this amount of our information or made ourselves as vulnerable as we do in this day and age. Of course, this doesn’t mean we can’t stay safe. It just means we need to be extra careful.

Why you should care

An identity thief can do a range of horrible things to you. From stealing your money to ruining your credit, there is a whole lot you can hate them for. They can take control of your finances and accounts, and actually even open entirely new ones in your name and use them while serving you with the bill. In 2013 alone identity theft was responsible for over $18 billion in losses. Take that into perspective and you just might start taking this threat seriously. Fortunately, you can secure your phone and computer in a way that it doesn’t eventually hurt you.

  • Don’t use your social security number as a substitute for your bank login details, ever. Also make sure that you don’t go around giving your social security number to whoever asks for it – unless absolutely necessary never give it to anyone.

  • You don’t need to get hacked to lose your information, someone can steal it from your garbage can. Make sure you have a shredder and get rid of all sensitive information and files so that no one can get their hands on it.

  • Regularly update all your security services such as anti-viruses and firewalls. This will help get rid of any loopholes or backdoors through which a hacker can find their way into your data.

  • Use two factor authentication wherever possible so that your accounts cannot be accessed as easily as someone stealing your login information.

  • Double check and confirm information that stems from your bank, the IRS, or any other financial body, when it delivered through text or phone. In general, you should always be skeptical if someone is asking you for your personal information.

  • Don’t click on links in your email because they can often lead elsewhere and not really represent the text that they are claiming to be. Hover your mouse over the text to see if the drop down address is the same as the one stated in the email.

  • Use extremely strong passwords for all your online accounts that contain sensitive information. Make sure that you update these passwords every couple of weeks to confirm that no one can easily gain access to them.

  • Don’t trust a cloud service with your personal details because their security hasn’t been proven to be airtight.

Practice intelligent online behavior. At the end of the day the threats in the digital world will not go away but you can do a whole lot to make sure that they don’t matter.


Image credit: Pieter Beens/

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