Technology makes it easy for people to steal other people’s information. Criminals can take your information and use it to commit fraud. Lost credit cards or driver’s licenses provide information to identity thieves. They use the details to access your funds or con unsuspecting friends and entities.

How can you avoid falling victim to such crimes? You need to know what comprises identity theft and how people steal the identities of others. This knowledge guides the specific measures you take to protect your information.

7 Ways To Avoid Online Identity Theft

Criminals target millions of Americans every year through online identity theft. There are steps you can take to avoid being their next victim.

1. Secure Your Devices With the Latest, Reliable Software 

Hackers target unsuspecting browsers with viruses and malware. You add them to your device by downloading insecure files. Once they are on your computer, hackers track your keystrokes and web usage. 

Anti virus Alert Firewall Hacker Protection Safety Concept

This monitoring helps them find out your passwords. You can stop viruses and malware from getting into your devices by not downloading suspicious files to your device if your device has viruses or malware already, scan and clean them with reliable anti-malware and anti-virus.

2. Identify Scams and Spam

Identity thieves often use the same tactics to get your information. Always be vigilant to avoid them. Some require a little sophistication to deal with them. 

Concept image illustrating incoming scam call on mobile phone

For example, if you receive an email claiming to be from your bank and you have never received an email from that address, do not click on the website link in the email.

Search for the site in a search engine to see whether it is a legitimate site. Avoid contests that promise you may win big after signing up for it.

3. Use Strong Passwords

Your passwords are crucial in protecting your identity. It would be best if you had different strong passwords for various sites. A strong password is one that is long and contains a mixture of letters, symbols, and numbers. It also has no personal information like your date of birth or name. 

Strong and weak password on pieces of paper. Password security and protection

It would help if you had different passwords for the sites you frequent. Update the passwords frequently. Your new passwords should not be a former password or a recycled version of the old password. Two-step authentication and password managers are excellent options.

4. Only Share General Posts

Do not share personal information on social networks. You never know the intentions of people who see your updates. Steer clear of pictures of your Social Security card and your driving license. Avoid giving clues to answers to your security question.

5. Buy from Reputable Online Stores 

You should know any e-commerce site you want to visit before your purchase. Many fake sites parade as e-commerce stores to lure unsuspecting buyers. Check the reviews of the business with the Better Business Bureau. 

It would be best if you looked at what previous customers are saying about the company. Check whether the website is secure. Visit sites with the HTTPS protocol and not HTTP. The former is safe and has satisfactory privacy terms.

6. Monitor Your Credit Ratings

Identity thieves often borrow money and do not pay. Your credit score will suffer because of their defaulting. You can request a free credit report from the three leading credit reporting agencies (Equifax, TransUnion, and Experian). 

Reviewing your credit standing allows you to detect any unauthorized line of credit. If you notice any transaction that you did not allow, report the identity theft to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). 

7. Freeze Your Credit

Identity thieves use your details to get a new credit card. Lending agencies will think the criminal is you if they provide your information. Putting a freeze on your credit can stop thieves from getting a new line of credit.

If you freeze your line, it will be difficult for the thief to open a new account. Lending agencies will ask for additional details and have controls in place that will protect you. 

What is Identity Theft?

Identity theft is a conscious attempt by a person to use another person’s identity to access a benefit or cause harm. The criminal uses your information to access your money or passes off as you with other people.

The details they use may include your passwords, credit card numbers, banking information, or Social Security number. Identity theft can lead to many consequences. It may cause financial losses, loss of jobs, and low credit scores.

There Are Many Types of Identity Thefts. The Common Ones Include:

  1. Driver’s License Identity Theft. The license has your address, names, and date of birth, which the criminals use. Thieves use the details in your driver’s license to get credit cards, loans, or open bank accounts. 
  2. Social Security Identity Theft. Criminals use the data from your Social Security card or number to apply for loans, get bank accounts or credit cards. They may pretend they lost their cards to get a new one. The new card can make them receive your benefits. It may also allow them to gain false passports.
  3. Criminal Identity Theft. Thieves may commit offenses posing as you. These acts may get law enforcement to arrest you for crimes you did not commit. You may suffer before they sort out the confusion. 
  4. Financial Identity Theft. These thieves target your bank account, storage vaults, or financial holdings. They assume your identity to steal your assets.

How Criminals Steal Identities 

Thieves can steal your identity. The common tactics they use include the following:

  • Stealing Your Wallet, Devices, or Documents. Identity thieves can snatch your wallet or device. They use the information in stolen devices or documents to impersonate you.
  • Change of Address. The criminals may fill change-of-address request forms under your name. They can steal your details from your letters, which the mailing company delivers to the new address.
  • Criminals Clone Information on Credit Cards by swiping them through card readers that keep the magnetic strip information. They can transfer this information to a fake card.
  • Dumpster Diving. Thieves may go through your garbage looking for unopened letters or credit cards. They may use the information on them to steal your identity. 
  • Online Identity Theft. Criminals trick users of various platforms into downloading malware. The malware you download has a code that they use to bypass your security measures and steal your information.

Some people online are looking for opportunities to steal the identities of others. These ways will save you from being their next victim. Many people are victims of online identity theft. Use strong passwords, visit secure sites, and secure your devices to protect your identity. 

Monitor your credit ratings, avoid scams, and share general posts to steer clear of these criminals. If you think you are susceptible to identity theft, clean your devices using new software, and freeze your credit. Take these measures and protect your identity.

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