In a digital world where people consider having access to the internet as a basic necessity, users are more susceptible to identity theft now, more than ever. Instead of being unrealistic and searching for ways to eradicate online fraudsters and thieves, it is better to protect oneself from theft and trouble.
In this article, you will learn tips and methods on how to protect your identity online. But before getting into the main topic, it is best to know what kind of a problem identity theft is and what could happen if someone steals your online identity.
What is identity theft?
Identity theft is when a cybercriminal steals the personal and financial information of an internet user. With the data that the thief gathers, they make purchases and transactions using the victim’s details. The different kinds of identity theft are:
- Criminal identity theft
- Medical identity theft
- Financial identity theft
- Child identity theft
Consequences of identity theft on the victim
Many identity theft victims suffer long-lasting effects of such a disruptive event. The time a person takes to get back on their feet may depend on what kind of identity theft they went through. Here are some of the consequences that victims cope with after getting their identity stolen:
- Financial effects
If a thief gets the financial details of an unsuspecting victim, the financial implications of such theft usually take a long time to solve. Victims may need to open new accounts and close those accounts which were in danger. The fraudsters may even sell the stolen information on the dark web and have long-term repercussions.
- Physical effects
Studies have found out that victims of identity theft fear for their physical wellbeing because there might be someone out there using their name to engage in criminal activities. Even though the victim may clear their name, it might have already had a negative impact on background checks.
- Emotional effects
Some common psychological consequences that identity theft has on its victims are feelings of fear, stress, and anxiety after going through the whole ordeal. Although many people do not know about this particular effect of this crime, it is very much prevalent and causes a victim to act irrationally with those around them.
- Social effects
Those who depend on social media for their work or personal work are most likely to suffer the social consequences of identity theft. The criminal may use the victim’s social internet accounts and tarnish their reputation online.
Ways to keep your identity safe and protected
Now that you know the adverse outcomes of getting one’s online status stolen, here is a list of what you can do to keep your online identity safe from fraudsters and cybercriminals:
- Up your password game
Strong passwords act as a shield when it comes to online privacy and security. For almost every social media or online account that a person has, the website always requires you to authenticate yourself through the use of a password. While it may be convenient for a person to keep a simple password that is easy to remember, this plan puts the account in danger.
It is best to keep a unique password that contains both uppercase and lowercase letters, along with numbers and symbols. Something many internet users does is put the same password for all of their accounts. Please avoid this practice because it leaves all your accounts under threat once an identity breaks into one platform.
- Try to avoid public wifis
Although the availability of public wifi tends to our needs conveniently and freely, it is best not to sign up or make use of public wifis as much as possible. If a person must use it in case of emergencies, make sure that the connection is trustworthy and always clear the cache after use. Please do not let the unknown service remember any of your credentials.
This advice is crucial because cybercriminals also get free access to this type of open public wifi, and they can get access to a wifi user’s passwords and credit information. There are high chances that a person will turn into a victim of malware as well.
- Always keep your security software up-to-date
There is a variety of security software available in the market that will protect a person’s computer or device from unauthorised access and also detect any suspicious activity or threat. Since technology is advancing at a very high pace, so are the methods that hackers and cybercriminals use. One must keep their security software up to date to prevent criminals from gaining access to your computer.
- Check the privacy settings on social media from time to time
Many people store a lot of personal details on their social media. Everyone should check their privacy settings because if you fail to set boundaries, criminals can easily steal your details and put you at a high risk of identity theft. Make sure that you restrict the type of people who can view your personal information.
- Try to avoid using one account to log in to another
Some websites allow you to make a new account or log in using the details of another account. As much as possible, users must try to avoid this practice because it allows the new website to collect data from the other social media account. It is best to use your email from every new login or sign up.
- Check whether a website is secure
Especially in pages and websites where a person is going to engage in financial transactions, they should make sure that the site is secure or encrypted. If there is the letter “s” at the end of the HTTP of an URL or web address, it means that the page is secure and one need not worry too much about breaches and hacks.
- Identify and avoid phishing attempts
Phishing is an activity that hackers and cybercriminals use to get private and financial information about the victims. It is a type of scam that you can easily avoid if you know how to spot and identify them. Some typical features of phishing emails are the use of threatening or urgent language and strange or suspicious sender addresses. It is best not to open these kinds of emails. Read more about phishing scams in our article Phishing Scams Australia 2020.
Keeping your online identity safe from cybercriminals is a top priority in every internet user’s life. Always remember not to share any password or private information with websites you do not fully trust. Keep your security software up-to-date and try not to let a site collect cookies unless completely necessary.
If you’re still finding it difficult to protect you and your business’s identity online, feel free to contact Inteck IT; your local, accredited managed IT service provider. You can call us at 1300 39 65 65 or view further contact information at our Contact Us page.