Having access to the internet makes us feel liberating and powerful. However, this liberty and power may be glorified, especially when we hear reports like 4 out of 10 people in India were victims of identity theft.
What is Identity Theft?
Simply put, if someone else uses your account (social media, financial, or any other) without your knowledge or approval, you are a victim of identity theft. This unauthorized access does not stop here. If an anti-social element gets hold of your personal information, they can use it for a multitude of actions, let alone trespass into your personal life.
The hackers can get a hold of your credit card information, Aadhaar Card, Pan Number, Bank Details, Address, and Digital Signature. This is all they need to get loans in your name from online sources, without ever passing that information to you.
How to protect yourself from Identity Theft?
1. Change your Passwords regularly
There are three ways any hacker may use to steal your passwords. They can use a brute force attack, a dictionary attack, and a phishing attack. The brute force attack can be tackled with setting passwords that have more than 12 characters.
A dictionary attack uses every word in the dictionary until your password is cracked. The best way to combat this is to set unusual and mixed passwords.
Phishing attacks require you to be smart and identify every aspect before sharing any personal information with the sender.
2. Credit Reports
Monitor your credit reports constantly for any signs of suspicious activity. Or think about freezing your credit reports. It’s not a perfect solution but it will help prevent identity thieves from opening up new accounts.
3. Protect your Information
Protect your computers and personal information your phones and tablets, your accounts and passwords, your surfing, your banking and accounts, your social network etc. These can all be points of vulnerability that crooks will quickly exploit.
4. Use Antiviruses
Identity theft can also be perpetrated if you have less than optimal protection. On your phone and your computer, install good and authentic anti-virus software that can shield you from DDoS attacks, malware, and ransomware attacks. All these attacks will give the hacker unlimited access, and they can use it to extort money from you.
5. Protect your Home
Too much personal information lying around your home could be an easy temptation to people you doesn’t know. So hide it where burglars and others can’t easily find it. And make sure you shred any sensitive financial information before you dispose of it.
6. Guard your Mail
Some thieves say that most of their crimes start with stolen mail, so make sure you don’t leave it in your mailbox for longer than you have to.
7. Social Networks
Mind what you and your kids say on Facebook and other social networks. Thieves are constantly checking out Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and other networks for personal information that might help them commit a fraud.
8. Lock down your Computer
There are dozens of free security tools, from antivirus to safe surfing that will help keep malicious software or malware from infecting your computer and stealing your information.
9. Manage Social Media
Almost every social media platform has to mandatorily give you the option to secure and hide your account from unknown people on the web. So, use these settings to hide all the personal information.
10. Use a VPN
Secure all the home networks like WiFi and other hotspot devices with a VPN. This protects your data and does not let hackers access it even if they have penetrated the firewall.