Identity theft affects millions of people all over the world. According to the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, over 650 thousand cases of identity theft are recorded annually, representing over 20 percent of reported fraud cases. And that’s just in the United States. You must take steps to protect your personal information. Otherwise, your data can fall into the wrong hands.
You might be thinking: Why would anyone want my name or address? The truth is, data is the most valuable commodity today. That’s why companies invest in zero-trust security to safeguard their data. Companies collect all sorts of information whenever people create online accounts or buy something from their stores. If that data is stolen, cybercriminals can use your personal information to obtain loans, access your bank accounts, and buy goods using your money.
Identity protection is a responsibility shared by both individuals and businesses. Here are a few ways to safeguard your sensitive data:
Use strong passwords
Unless you’ve enabled two-factor authentication across your accounts (and chances are, you haven’t), your password is the only thing standing between cybercriminals and your data. You need to use different passwords for each account you’ve created and use a mix of characters and numbers.
Even if you’ve created a strong password, if you use the same one across all accounts, cybercriminals only need to make one correct guess to access all your data. Of course, it can be challenging to keep track of all your passwords. Use a password management tool to store all your passwords. Just don’t forget your password for the password manager.
Secure your paper trail
Identity protection extends to the real world as well. Your paper documents are full of information cybercriminals can use, so you need to be careful about the papers you keep and throw away.
For starters, you might want to invest in a good paper shredder. That way, you can destroy sensitive documents such as bank statements, bills, receipts, and application forms before throwing them in the trash. Lock all documents you intend to keep in a secure drawer or, better yet, a safe. Keep all credit, debit, or ATM card receipts with you and dispose of them at home.
Bring only the essentials
Many people keep all their credit cards, debit cards, and identification cards in a single wallet. But if that wallet is stolen or goes missing, you’ll find it extremely difficult to obtain replacements without supporting identification. Make sure to carry only the essentials with you.
For instance, only keep one or two identification cards and your personal credit and debit cards in your wallet. Store everything else in a secure location. Never bring your Social Security card or even your Social Security number with you.
Companies invest heavily in network security to keep their data secure, but that doesn’t mean that you don’t have to do anything to protect your sensitive information. These tips and tricks will help ensure that your data is kept safe from identity thieves. If you think your data has been compromised, you need to contact the police immediately.