Online identity theft is one of the most pervasive and serious threats you face in this digital world. Hackers, scammers and thieves are always looking to steal your personal information so that they can impersonate you, open up fraudulent accounts and drain your money. Below, you’ll find four strategies to help you protect your identity when you’re online.
Fraudulent Tax Returns
One criminal offense that is a form of identity theft is fraudulent tax returns. This process entails people filing tax returns based on your personal information. Experts caution that if thieves can get their hands on your SSN, they can file taxes in your name and steal your tax refund. Experts recommend that you file as soon as possible after getting your W2. In that way, you can get ahead of any hackers or scammers who have plans to steal your identity and funds.
Watch Out for Scams
Scams are all around you, and one of the best ways to protect your identity is to be aware of them. Consultants warn that phishing scams are some of the most prevalent ones out there. This type of fraud relies on spoofing or copying the look of normal emails you get from companies. Sometimes these emails look so real it’s hard to tell they’re fake, and they will often lead you to real-looking websites as well. Remember, however, you should never click on any links that come in an email. Always be sure to open a new browsing window, google the website, and click on it from there.
Invest in Security Software
One of the easiest things you can do to protect yourself from identity theft is invest in good security software. Specialists explain that often, malicious malware is so sneaky that you won’t even know if your computer is infected. Once it is, a hacker can steal all your personal data, including your address, bank information and much more. There are many different security software programs in a whole range of subscriptions, and it’s well worth the fee in order to keep yourself safe. Always make sure that you keep your software up to date as well.
Although it might be a hassle to have a wealth of different passwords for different websites, it’s well worth the effort to diversify these keys. If you don’t, someone can hack one website, steal your password and identity and then find they’re able to use that same password across the expanse of the internet. It’s important that you use different passwords. They should be over 10 characters long and employ a combination of symbols. In addition, a password should have nothing to do with any personal information, including your SSN or birthdate.
Be diligent. Filing your taxes early, learning about scams, installing security software and creating strong passwords can help keep you and your identity safe in the digital landscape.