The digital world is amazing. People can work, communicate, shop, and do pretty much anything online these days. Unfortunately, there’s a downside. Scammers are always looking to steal data, financial information, and just about anything they can get their sticky hands on. Over one-third of people have had their identity compromised over the past year. That makes it such a significant threat that consumers must take their identity protection into their own hands. So what can we do about this pervasive threat? It turns out the answer is plenty, both on and offline. In this article, we’ll take you through a few ways to protect your identity both online and offline. Check it out below.
Be Careful What You Post
Facebook. Instagram. Twitter/X. These—and pretty much any other social media platform—can be fun to use. But they also have a sinister downside that can readily compromise your information. Oversharing creates privacy risks—especially if you share details about your real-life location. Identity theft and stalking are major concerns with social media, especially if you use any identifiable information as security questions or passwords. Avoid sharing stuff like your mother’s maiden name, pets’ names, children’s names, etc, and make sure to use strong (and unique) passwords to help you stay safe as well.
Reinforce Your Passwords
Passwords are another way that people can steal your identity. If your password is poor, common, or lacks sufficient security measures, it can be cracked very easily. There are a couple of things you can do to make your passwords unique. To begin with, never use personal information in your password. Birthdays, pet names, email addresses, family names, or any identifying characteristics at all should never be part of your password. Try to include numbers, lowercase letters, uppercase letters, symbols, and more complexities in your password. Make your passwords long. Use passphrases to help reinforce your passwords. You can also use a password manager to help keep track of all of them. Finally, never, ever use the same password for multiple accounts. The more bizarre, random, and lengthy your password, the more you can reinforce it to protect yourself online.
Use Software To Protect Your Digital Life
Perhaps the best way to protect yourself and your family online is to use security software. Available in a variety of different packages, security software contains essential features that keep your data safe and maintain your privacy. Every version of security software will have an antivirus. It’s the single most basic tool to protect you against viruses, malware, adware, and more. Good software can also help protect you against phishing attacks, ransomware, and data breaches. In addition to that, it can keep your family safe and help you monitor their online activities. Maximum security with built-in identity protection features can save you a lot of time and heartache over the long term. By investing in a security solution via software, you’re effectively taking control of your digital life and can protect yourself from potential problems that can lead to identity theft/compromise.
Shred Old Mail and Documents
Another way to protect your identity online is to shred documents or mail that has personally identifiable information. This includes billing statements, Social Security statements, Bank statements, anything financial, and just about anything that might contain sensitive data. Identities will often Target discarded paperwork. They like to extract valuable details like names, addresses, and financial information from these documents. You might not think much about them when you’re reading them, but they’re a treasure trove to thieves. By routinely shredding old mail, financial statements (or just about anything with account numbers), and other personal correspondence, you can create a barrier to protect yourself against identity theft. It’s a remarkably simple, yet effective measure that can help you stay safe from data thieves.
Although there are many things you can do to protect yourself, there’s a lot to be said about backing things up. You can back things up digitally and save hard copies of important documents in folders. Think of a backup as a safety net for everything you hold dear. They’re useful in the event of a cyber attack, data loss, ransomware attack, or data theft. Backups prevent identity thieves from erasing, withholding, or ransoming your data. Ultimately, backups create a powerful shield that can help you restore your digital life should your identity ever be compromised.