A recent report released by Javelin Strategy & Research showed that in 2015, 12.7 million Americans became victims of identity theft.
The amount of identity theft victims, the report says, increased by half a million from the previous year.
With the amount of people suffering every year from identity theft, it’s becoming more important for people to protect themselves, especially online where thieves can easily get ahold of personal information.
5 Ways to Prevent Identity Theft From Your Online Activities in 2015
Read on to learn more about how to protect your identity online.
1. Be Conscious of Your Passwords
With a secure password, it becomes more difficult for hackers, or even people in your own community, to access your personal information.
Use these few tips to help you keep your passwords safe:
i. Keep it to yourself. Don’t tell anyone else, and don’t write it down in an easy-to-find location.
ii. Change up your password for different websites. Don’t always use the same one.
iii. Change your password often. Some recommendations suggest you switch your password every 30 days.
iv. Don’t create passwords that are easy to guess. Use a combination of symbols that thieves can’t easily link to you, such as names or birth dates.
2. Ensure The Website Is Secure Before Inputting Any Information
A phishing scam is the act of attempting to acquire personal information by posing as a trustworthy company.
For example, you might receive an email that appears as if it’s from your bank asking you to confirm your personal information. The e-mail might also include a link to your bank’s “website” to have you enter this info.
In reality, this website only looks like your bank’s website, but once you submit the information, it’s available to the thief.
This is one of the easiest ways for thieves to acquire your information, so it’s important that you’re aware online to protect yourself from these scams.
One easy way to protect yourself is to always make sure the URL starts with https:// instead of http://. The “s” tells you that the site is secure.
3. Avoid Clicking on Unknown Links or Downloading Suspicious Files
Another way to protect yourself from phishing scams is to avoid clicking on links within emails or throughout the web.
However, this practice can also protect you from other types of viruses and scams. One such virus is called a Trojan Virus, which comes into your computer on piggyback with a seemingly trustworthy file.
Once inside your computer, hackers may be able to monitor your keystrokes to acquire passwords, names, birth dates, Social Security numbers, and more.
Only download files from people you know or trust, and avoid clicking on links if you don’t know where they will take you.
4. Install Protective Software on Your Computer
Even if you do run across one of these viruses, you can often prevent it from installing in your computer if you have the proper software.
You can install anti-virus software or even set up your own firewall to make you virtually invisible online.
However, you should still be wary of these programs since some of them may be Trojan viruses of their own. Make sure to research the product before you install it, and only purchase from trustworthy companies.
Aside from virus protection, you can also purchase software specifically designed to protect your identity in more effective ways.
Visit IdentityTheftProtection.org for more information on how they can help protect your identity through more effective measures like credit monitoring.
5. Only Access Personal Information From a Private Computer
Whenever you access personal information online, such as your bank account, make sure you’re on a private computer and on a secure network.
Avoid accessing this information at Internet cafes or over public networks since you never know what kind of viruses may be on those computers or whether the network itself is trustworthy.
You should avoid accessing this information in a public area anyway since it could also put you at risk of Shoulder Surfing, a technique where the thief watches you input personal information, and then records the passwords or PIN numbers.
Wanted to add how you are protecting yourself from identity theft online in 2015, do in the comments!