In a world full of malevolent online actors, identity theft has never been more prevalent. We’ve never been more at risk for getting our information stolen. Whether you have assets to steal or just don’t want your name used for scams and other malicious uses, avoiding identity theft should be a coordinated effort. It will happen to most people eventually. However, you can avoid identity theft by doing your due diligence and taking these five steps to protect yourself.
Have All Your Documents in Place
The first thing you should do to avoid the perils of identity theft is to have all your documents in place. This means keeping your ID cards, passports, birth certificate, and social security card organized and kept safe. You should also replace any documents you can’t find. A social security card replacement can be the difference between proving your identity and toiling in the limbo when your identity is stolen. Should your information be stolen, you will need the documents necessary to prove who you are and protect yourself from further threats.
Use Your Credit Card Online
When you are making purchases online, you should be sure to use your credit card instead of debit. Debit cards aren’t nearly as secure as credit, and if money is stolen out of your account it can be a lot more difficult to get that money back. Credit cards are, by design, much more secure. Whether you are buying something from a trusted business or a website you’re unsure about, you should try to always use your credit card. Debit cards are unsecure, and the information can be stolen a lot easier.
Cancel Your Cards
When your wallet or identity is stolen, you should cancel your cards immediately. Call your bank and credit companies as soon as you can and explain what happened. The sooner you alert them, the faster they will be able to stop any fraudulent charges and get new cards to you as soon as possible. Even if you still have your card but your identity has been stolen online, it’s best to get new cards and avoid the possibility that the people who stole your identity don’t steal everything you have. Canceling cards is a precaution you take whenever you’ve been compromised. It’s a pain, but a pain that is worth it.
Use Complicated Passwords
People say this a lot, but it’s true. You should use complex and unique passwords or every account that you have. If you use the same password for every account—whether it’s complicated or not—identity thieves will likely have access to all your information. Avoid this by creating unique passwords that are difficult to guess or figure out. If you can’t remember them, you can keep the passwords in an encrypted folder where no one can see them. Encryption is a huge benefit when it comes to identity theft.
Whether you are using a messaging app, a web browser, or a device that is at risk, you should be using encryption. Encryption is the process of using protected servers to keep information safe from hackers, identity thieves, and malware. Not only can you protect the information in an email, web search, or on a computer, it’s possible to secure the information about the interaction. Encryption reroutes the information to a different server where no one can find it. Whether you are in the business of tech, cyber security, or simply want to protect yourself against malicious actors, everyone should be using encryption.
Whoever you are and whatever you do, identity theft is a real threat that you shouldn’t overlook. It’s important to protect yourself from any possible threats. You shouldn’t just wait around to be hacked or compromised. Instead, protect yourself by using different passwords, encrypting channels, using credit cards online, and having all your documents in place.
Identity theft is a huge problem in the modern world. There are so many reasons an individual or group would want to steal your identity. While it could just be to gain information and use your name in their scheme, the real-deal identity thieves will try to steal everything you have. Avoid this by showing due diligence.