Identity theft and fraud are some of the fastest growing crimes in America, affecting 14.4 million in 2018. According to the Insurance Information Institute (III), the top five types of identity theft reported in 2018 included:
- Credit card fraud - new accounts
- Miscellaneous identity theft
- Tax fraud
- Mobile telephone – new accounts
- Credit card fraud – existing accounts
It’s more important than ever in an era with such technological advancements to take protecting your identity very seriously. You don’t have to be a tech guru to implement some very simple safety measures that will help to protect your personal data:
1.Use passcodes on all your devices
What if you left your smartphone in a restaurant or taxi, would the person who found it be able to access what’s on it? That’s pretty scary. Our devices contain a vast amount of personal information – from your address, to your email accounts, social media accounts, saved logins, banking information, calendar events and much more.
Losing your device is one thing – but giving the finder access to your personal information is something entirely different. Make sure all of your devices, including your phone, tablet, and desktop, are secured with some type of passcode.
Some types of passcodes are more secure than others. Facial recognition along with fingerprint recognition are some of the strongest methods, followed by two-factor authentication, keys and patterns.
2.Create strong, unique passwords for all online accounts
Sometimes your personal data can be leaked due to a company suffering a data breach and ideally, that one account is your only concern. However, if you use the same login credentials for multiple accounts, that single breach could give hackers access to all of your other accounts. This is why it’s so important to create unique passwords for each of your online accounts.
Hackers are getting smarter and smarter, which is why password requirements are becoming more and more extensive. Your should shoot for eight or more characters in all of your passwords. A good rule of thumb is to include a minimum of one capital letter and one lowercase letter, one number and one symbol. A unique combination of these characters will help stump a hacker.
We understand – memorizing 10+ login credentials is not an easy task. You might consider utilizing a password manager to keep track of your passwords. We’ve hunted down three for you to try:
3.Update your software regularly
Ensure you’re following all of the necessary updates to your devices operating system and antivirus software. Cyber threats change frequently and oftentimes these updates address security issues.
4.Never enter your personal information via email or text
If you get an email or text from a retailer, charity, the government or a long-lost relative asking for your personal information, there’s a good chance it’s a phishing scam – no matter how legit it might seem. Your personal info should never be shared via email or text. If you believe the request is legitimate, search for the organization’s phone number and follow up by phone.
5.Use Wi-Fi wisely
While free public Wi-Fi is convenient, it’s not the most secure option for your personal information. With the right tools, a hacker can enter the same public Wi-Fi network as you and eavesdrop on your online activity. Hence why you should never enter your credit card number or login information on public Wi-Fi.
Even password-protected Wi-Fi can be dangerous. Who has access to the password? Would you trust anyone in that same vicinity with your personal information? Save your transactions for when you have access to a secure network, like at home. If you must log in or transact online on public Wi-Fi, use a VPN (virtual private network), which encrypts your activity so that others on the same network can’t easily see what you’re doing.
As hackers become more and more savvy – it’s crucial to implement these basic Personal Data Precautions in your everyday life. Follow us on social media for more helpful hints!