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Tips to Avoid Identity Theft

Identity theft is one of the modern world’s biggest nightmares. While absolute safety from hackers can never be guaranteed you can take a few simple steps to significantly reduce your risk. By following these guidelines, you will at least make sure that you’re not an easy target.

Think about your online activity

First and foremost, think about what you share on social media. Giving away too much personal information can easily open the door to hackers. Beyond that, always make sure that any online shopping you do is from secure websites, which can be identified by the ‘https://’ at the start of the url and the padlock icon next to it.

Finally, keep in mind what network you are using to make your online purchases. Public wi-fi networks are notoriously vulnerable to interception and even your home wi-fi network should be protected with a strong, unique password.

Manage your passwords

It’s vital that you use different, strong passwords to access your online services and subscriptions. There are plenty of tips online on how to create strong passwords and even your smartphone could help you out with suggestions. Managing multiple passwords used to be a headache but that’s no longer the case with multiple password manager services now available. You should also consider setting up account alerts to receive notifications about unusual activity. Whenever you see anything suspicious, make sure you act quickly to reset passwords and alert the service provider affected. Further protection can be added by using multiple factor authentication which adds an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification beyond your password. You may also opt to sign up for an identity theft protection service.

Be aware of phishing tactics

Over the years, hackers have developed various phishing tactics to get their victims to part with sensitive personal information. Never give personal details over the phone unless you initiated the call and be very sceptical of any emails demanding urgent action from you which involves sharing any personal data.  You can learn more about this topic by reading some of our other articles; on social engineering and the evolving threat of phishing.

Look after your documents

Identity theft can begin with access to either physical or digital documents. If you have printed birth certificates, tax returns or other vital paperwork at home, make sure these are kept secure, ideally in a fireproof home safe. Documents containing personal information, such as utility bills, should be discarded after a specific period of time. These should be shredded prior to being disposed or recycled. When it comes to digital documents it’s important to use encryption software to prevent unauthorised access.

Remember, vigilance is key. By implementing these practices, you’ll significantly reduce the chances of falling victim to identity theft.

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