Unfortunately, millions of Americans were not so lucky, and if you are not careful, you could join their ranks next year.
Cybersecurity experts are well aware that the threat of ID theft will only continue to grow, in part thanks to technological advancements that seem to be progressing faster than our ability to secure them. More of our information is becoming digitized, thanks to the growth of cloud services, digital recordkeeping and the Internet of Things. This opens consumers up to a number of different cyberattacks. And yet, at the same time, polls show that many Americans simply aren’t worried about identity theft, despite the increasing odds of it affecting them.
Don’t let yourself get caught unawares in 2016. It’s time to make some New Year’s resolutions about your identity:
- Read all the fine print. It’s tempting to sign up for that free trial offer you saw online, but sometimes the devil is in the details. You may be inadvertently giving companies permission to share your data with their partners. The best-case scenario is that your inbox fills up with spam emails faster each month. The worst-case scenario is that someone tries to use this information to catch you in a phishing scam.
- Don’t blindly trust websites. Hackers are skilled at roping in victims just when they thought they were safely browsing the Internet. Sometimes, a website that you thought you could trust ends up being a front for something more devious. Remember: Never blindly click on any link unless you know where it will take you. Make sure to read the URL carefully to see if you can spot any obvious differences that may indicate a website other than the one you thought you would be visiting.
- Change those weak passwords. You’ve probably been putting this off for a while, but now is the time. If you use a few easy-to-guess passwords for all of your accounts, you are not being protected nearly as well as you think. Start using longer, more complex passwords, and try not to repeat them. As an additional precaution, turn on two-step verification for every online account that supports it. This means that a password alone will not be enough to let you in — you’ll need your mobile device on hand as well.
- Clean up your social media presence. You probably share more personal information on your social media accounts than you realize. Luckily, many such accounts allow users to determine who can see this information. Make sure that only your closest friends and relatives can see things like your age, address, email and phone number.
- Buy a paper shredder. Sure, the biggest threats to identity security today are on the Internet. But you still have plenty of important documents laying around, and they need to be disposed of properly to prevent dumpster divers from stealing your information. A shredder is an easy, affordable way to make that happen.
- Finally, be sure to invest in credit monitoring. Services like this can notify you of certain activities in your credit files that may indicate fraud. This can give you much-needed peace of mind, allowing you to rest assured that you’re taking important measures to safeguard your identity.