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6 ways to protect yourself from online identity theft and fraud

Theft of identity is a type of fraud in which criminals deceive and steal from people by using their private data. It may entail draining bank accounts, starting new accounts, asking for loans, stealing financial advantages, exchanging insurance information, hacking into emails, and impersonating others on social media. Due to digital communication becoming more prevalent, identity theft has grown rapidly.

What you can do to protect yourself towards identity theft

Follow the below-recommended practices for protecting your personal information to fight identity theft.

1. Use secure and unique passwords

By breaking a single password, cybercriminals may quickly get access to sensitive information. Create complicated passwords for each account and save them in a password manager to increase cybersecurity. Personal information such as birth dates and pet names should be avoided since it may be easily readable. Instead, use a mixture of capital and lowercase characters, numbers, and symbols to create unpredictable, cryptic passwords.

2. Be cautious of phishing attacks

Phishing schemes and social engineering strategies are frequently used in online identity theft. Users are encouraged to click on links or download files in these emails, which look to be from reliable sources. Users may be duped into providing personal information or installing malware. It is critical to thoroughly review all emails, mark questionable ones as spam, and never send personal or sensitive information by email. It’s also critical to confirm the authenticity of an email by contacting the company directly.

3. Delegate the legwork to the software

Identity thieves may strike at any time, so investing in advanced antivirus software to guard against identity theft is worthwhile. Antivirus software provides multi-layered defence and aids in the prevention of a wide range of cyber assaults. These softwares can be downloaded on laptops, smartphones, etc. Since online fraud may happen anywhere, it’s a good idea to have mobile antivirus loaded as well.

4. Maintain vigilance over your credit records and bank accounts

When a criminal exploits personal information to submit a request for a new credit line, this is referred to as credit identity theft. To protect yourself, monitor your credit record, which can be obtained from major credit agencies. If you observe any changes or unidentified activity, immediately freeze your credit. This prohibits new credit files from being created until the file is unfrozen. Regularly review your banking statements and alert your bank of any unauthorized transactions. Sign up for financial institution alerts to get information about withdrawals or deposits.

5. When utilizing public WiFi, take caution

Accessing public Wi-Fi at a terminal, mall, or workplace is a quick and cheap way to get online, but it has challenges too. The most important consideration is security; because open Wi-Fi networks are unprotected, they effectively open the door to skilled hackers.

If you must connect to public WiFi, first utilize a Virtual Private Network (VPN). VPNs protect online privacy, but it’s advisable to avoid critical sites like banking or work email until on a secure network.

6. Restrict your social media sharing.

Social media aids in contact with family, close friends, and people with similar interests in every corner of the world. However, it is all too simple to overshare and leave a trail of clues for hackers looking to perpetrate identity theft. For example, you may post your workplace or hometown, or make your email address public. Keep your social media accounts private and get rid of suspicious people from your friend list so that fraudsters cannot access your accounts.

Which actions should be taken if you are a Victim of Identity theft?

Despite efforts, identity theft can occur. Change your account passwords, contact banks, get a credit report, file a notification with cybersecurity authorities, and seek support from organizations to safeguard your identity.