5 quick and easy ways to avoid ID theft

The theft of personal information can be costly and stressful. In this post we reveal how you can avoid the personal and financial impact of identity theft.

Identity theft has gone online

Identity theft happens when criminals use a victim’s identity to, for example, buying things and paying in installments. But to do this, criminals first need to steal your personal information, such as your name, phone number, birth­day, social security number, address, and credit card number.

And the internet is a perfect place to find these details; social media, shopping accounts and other profiles are full of them. Of course, they can’t be accessed by just anyone. But cyber criminals have multiple ways of stealing information, and with identity data available in huge quantities online, it makes it far easier to use for fraud, with a small risk of getting caught. That’s why ID theft nowadays mostly happens online.

The damage can be severe and long-lasting

Repairing the damages of identity theft takes a lot of time and effort, with some victims only realizing that their identity has been stolen when they get bills or contacts from debtors. And as well as all the financial costs, becoming a victim can cause emotional distress, too. So, while the criminals walk away with the profits, the victim is left with all the consequences.

Anyone can become a victim of identity theft

When it comes to our personal information online, many people think they don’t have anything worth stealing. Or that nobody would bother trying to steal their identity. Unfortunately, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Online criminals are ruthless. They often prey on easy targets. And the victim’s wealth or lack of it doesn’t prevent identity theft. Because credit cards, payday loans and installment agreements can be acquired in anyone’s name.

But to do that, criminals first need to steal personal information. Thankfully, though, there are a number of ways that you can make identity theft less likely, and by following the simple steps below you can protect your personal information.

1. Set your email address under 24/7 breach monitoring

Most online accounts are created with an email address and a pass­word. When criminals breach an online service, they aim to steal the personal information within. Like pass­words and email addresses. And if criminals manage to get their hands on this information, they have access to all the information in your account.

But if you don’t know about a data breach, you can’t really protect your­self from the damage. So set your email address for data breach monitoring. Once you’ve done this, when a service with an account created with it gets breached, you will get an alert. And if you change your pass­word immediately, criminals will be left with your old pass­word, and they can’t steal your data with that.

2. Use unique pass­words

Pass­words are keys to personal information in online accounts. Almost every online service uses them to restrict unauthorized access. Criminals steal pass­words through data breaches, phishing scams, malware, and inter­cepting web traffic.

Use unique pass­words and you can protect your personal details online. By using unique pass­words if your pass­word gets compromised, the damage is limited to only one account. Whereas if you use the same pass­word every­where, all your accounts across the web are compromised. Use a pass­word manager so you can store your unique pass­words and have them at hand always when you need them. And use a strong pass­word generator to make it as secure as possible.

3. Use antivirus software

Computer viruses and malware steal personal information. Some record your key­strokes when you type in pass­words. Others go through your cookies, or the pass­words saved on your browser. Stop them from stealing your data with an anti­virus soft­ware. It’s easier and safer to prevent infection than to deal with a virus that’s already on your device.

4. Be careful when opening links and attachments

Phishing means tricking you into giving your personal information to criminals. Phishing sites, emails and messages often resemble a real and famous brand. They can look very convincing. URLs (aka the www. address of the page) on phishing sites may have just a one-character difference with that of an actual site. Same goes with email sender addresses.

So be careful. Don’t click any suspicious links or open attachments, especially in emails. They can lead to phishing sites and also include malware. And if you feed in your credentials, the site owner can then use them for ID theft. To avoid this, make sure to check the sender and the URL of the page before feeding in your info.

5. Use a VPN on public Wi‑Fi networks

Setting up a public Wi‑Fi hot­spot is really easy. And nothing prevents naming it “Free air­port Wi‑Fi”, “Hotel Guest”, etc. That’s why you can never know if a public Wi‑Fi net­work is safe. The net­work owner can inter­cept your user­names, pass­words, messages, and bank information, if your connection is not secure.

But with a VPN, you can use any Wi‑Fi net­work without having to worry about criminals stealing your data. VPN encrypts your web traffic so out­siders can’t steal your pass­words and other information from it.

F-Secure TOTAL helps you avoid identity theft

If criminals steal your personal details, they can steal your identity. ID theft is costly, and fixing things takes long. Preventing identity theft can save you money and time.

F-Secure TOTAL online security package helps you avoid identity theft. Data breach monitoring, pass­word manager, anti­virus that blocks phishing web­sites, and a VPN all make stealing your personal information very hard. You can try TOTAL free for 30 days, with no credit card required.

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