Identity theft is when someone grabs your information such as your complete name, address, PIN, social security number, credit card details and important passwords to use them for illegitimate and injurious activities like to use your name and address for illegal action, to steal your money from bank account or credit card and to harm your personal repute by using your social media accounts after hacking etc.
In this digital world, hackers and cyber criminals are ingenious and can gain access to your personal and confidential details by using different tactics and strategies. For instance, they can pull your information from garbage bin. Counter keeper or waitress can note down your credit card number clandestinely when getting paid for a service or product. And someone can get your social security number when you are telling it to someone over a telephone call in public.
Since protecting your personal and confidential details and information can be little bit hard and impossible, below we have some practical ways that can protect you from becoming victim of cyber criminals in form of identity theft.
Ways to protect yourself from identity theft
As I have mentioned in recent lines that cyber criminals are clever in these days, they can phish their victims by play-acting as government officials, bankers and other agencies. They can make telephone calls, send emails and SMSs to ask for your personal details and information. For example, a cyber-criminal may ask you to share your credit card number and PIN to validate your account. So, never ever share your details without verifying the person who is talking to you.
Don’t believe the numbers of email addresses they use and be quick to contact the right person or authority for confirmation. Don’t reply or respond to an anonymous call or email in order to prevent identity theft.
Keep Social Security Numbers Protected
Don’t share your social security number with people or authorities who don’t need it. For instance, schools and other academic institutes may ask you to provide your social security number when keeping record of your kid’s personal details, but you shouldn’t provide because they don’t need it anywhere. Also be cautious when sharing it with right people via phone call or email.
Keep Check on your financial Accounts
It is most vital to stay watchful against identity theft in any possible way. For example, you can keep yourself protected from ID theft by keeping a proper check on your financial accounts for any errors and mistrustful transactions/activities. Make a habit to check your bank statements, credit card reports and other bank related reports and reach out to the concerns when any fraudulent evidence found in reports and ask them to check the issues.
Tear up Private Records
Never put your private records and statements like credit card reports, bank statements and certifications etc in the bin but try to tear them up or put them on fire. Because cyber thieves often get your personal details and information from the garbage.
Watch for Shoulder-Surfers
When entering a password on your system, entering PIN or card number in ATM machine or logging in the PC at work, always watch for your shoulder surface to ensure that there is nobody around you who is starring at the keyboard or keys to guess your PIN or password.
Destroy Digital Files/Data
When you are about to upgrade your smartphone with a latest one or replacing your old desktop with a new one, be sure to destroy your all digital files and data to make sure there is nothing left in the phone or PC that can be used to make you victim of identity theft. Remember to reset your phone to make sure that all your accounts, contacts and media files are removed successfully.
Even deleting your data from hard drive is not enough because there are a lot of ways to recover data from hard drives. So, try to dispose them off when selling your PC or try to keep it with you for a new system. Also destroy the CDs or DVDs if you have stored your media files, data and other information there and now are useless for you. Never ever put them in the bin but try to dispose of.
Surf the Web with Caution
Protect your Computer from Viruses and Spyware
Most of the people think that their personal information and details stored on the PC are safe and protected. But they are wrong if they are not shielding their computers from viruses and spyware. You should be using a reliable and highly featured anti-virus.
Use of strong passwords is another best way to protect your details and information from thieves. Password with more than 8 characters is considered as strong and you must also be using some symbols, letters and numbers in it to make it difficult to guess.
Be Choosy when Sharing Information on Social Media
We all use different social media profiles nowadays not only to communicate with overseas friends and family members but to search for the required stuff and things as well. When sharing personal information on social media profiles, you should be cautious and choosy as well because cyber criminals can also use details and information shared on social media profiles to steal your money or to harm your personal repute. There is no need to share your personal contact number on social media even without privacy. However, you can use different privacy settings to share information and details with only trusted peoples who are in your friend list.