Hackers breaking into computer systems used to be an entertaining ploy in action movies, but now they are a persistent real-world problem. For the past decade, data breaches and ID theft have been running rampant. Breaches emanating from an app on your phone or a swipe of your credit card can cause emotional turmoil and sleepless nights.
The trouble with data breaches and ID theft is they are not always dramatic or even immediately noticeable. Money could be siphoned from accounts without a trace while the person doing so claims your name. But you don’t have to be blind-sided. Adopting a proactive lifestyle can limit your exposure to cybercriminals and protect you from having fraud take over your life.
First, switch up your passwords. Using the same password for multiple accounts makes easy work for anyone looking to break into them. Also, strengthen your password, using more – and more varied – characters, to prevent anyone from being able to guess your password. The best passwords are ones with a combination of numbers and letters in no specific order. If you feel you won’t be able remember unique passwords for every account, try a password manager, which can help you keep track of your passwords and alert you to any breach attempts.
Next, protect your email from phishing. It all starts with an unassuming email, maybe saying that you’ve been awarded thousands of dollars. Or, it might seek to scare you, such as claiming to be the IRS and demanding you pay $20,000 because you filed your tax forms incorrectly. Spam filters usually get the very obvious ones out of the way, but a few are sure to wiggle through.
If you see something suspicious, delete it without opening it. Even clicking on these emails will open your IP address and computer to hundreds of lines of code, giving full rein to the intruder. If you know the sender, contact them via another platform or device to verify the authenticity of the email.
You can find other ways to protect yourself from ID theft, but these steps are a good start. Financial institutions and other businesses also are looking for ways to thwart cybercriminals. For further peace of mind, check out James Allen Insurance’s ID Theft policy. Our coverage helps reimburse expenses related to the fraud, including attorney fees and lost income.