Identity theft has become a much more pervasive problem in the Information Age. Identity thieves that would once go through people’s garbage looking for personal information can now often find what they’re looking for online, from almost any location in the world. However, numerous defense mechanisms and strategies have been developed in response to the increasing prevalence of identity theft. Concerned citizens should be able to drastically reduce their chances of falling victim to identity theft by taking the right steps to keep their financial and personal data secure.
Many individuals are relatively reckless with their computer passwords. They will use pieces of personal information that are very easy to find, such as their addresses or birthdays. Given the amount of seemingly innocuous personal details that can end up online through social media websites and other sources, it’s wise to make your passwords as random and difficult to guess as possible.
Filling them with numerals and capital letters may make them more difficult to remember, but they will be much more difficult for your potential opponents to deduce. It’s also important to use a different password for each individual website. When financial websites give you the option to save your information for future transactions, it’s also best to avoid doing so. Giving potential identity thieves even one extra step can make all the difference.
Many new technological developments have been specifically created with identity theft in mind. There are plenty of examples of anti-spyware software on the market today, which will make it that much more unlikely that anyone will be able to get any of the financial and personal information you’ve ever accessed through your computer. Many instances of identity theft occur with computers that do not have adequate protection through anti-virus software and firewalls.
Many people will now carry out the majority of their financial transactions online. Encryption software can help make it that much more difficult for any unwanted third-party to gain access to any personal or financial information that you have transmitted online. Most financial websites and similar outlets will be protected, but having an additional layer of protection guards against other unexpected forms of identity theft.
Other Potential Risks
Almost all public places now offer free wireless Internet networks for their customers. However, it’s best to do all Internet transactions that necessitate the use of personal and financial information on a private, secure network. Public wireless Internet networks tend to have lax security parameters. There may be some exceptions, but it’s important to verify the security of a given wireless Internet network in advance.
People still send phishing emails as a way to gain access to your personal and financial information. As a general rule, if you don’t recognize the sender of a given e-mail and it’s full of unfamiliar links and files, delete the message and avoid activating any of the links or files within. These files could be vectors for computer viruses, for which your current system may be unprepared. While having a protected computer can make all the difference, the development of viruses sometimes moves faster than the development of anti-virus software. Failing to recently update your software could leave your system temporarily at risk, and avoiding any outside risks provides another protective measure.