The Top 5 Signs That You're at Risk of Identity Theft
How likely are you to fall victim to identity theft? Well, according to Javelin's 2018 Fraud Report, last year, around 16.7 million people were affected by identity fraud in the US alone. The population of the USA is close to 326 million which means that in 2017, just over 5% of American citizens were affected by this particular type of crime.
Of course, the likelihood of falling victim to identity theft is 5%. Though, there are many factors at play, and sometimes, people don't realize that they are inadvertently exposing themselves to a looming threat. Today, we'll take a look at some of the common mistakes Internet users make. We'll look at how they lead to exposure of private data, and we'll also give you some tips on how to avoid making those mistakes.
Using weak passwords
Cybercriminals have become much more sophisticated over the last few years. Users, it would appear, haven't. Millions of people continue to use "123456" as their passwords. If you are one of those people, it's high time you stop doing that. You have to realize that by default, the password is the only thing keeping the bad guys away from your data, and you need to start treating it with due respect.
Reusing what you think is a strong password
We come to the age-old question of what constitutes a strong password. You might argue that "123456" is a weak password, and you'd definitely be right. In much the same way, you might say that "Ho5*Sjid$jt7ov(_=IlEg3" is a strong password, but this depends on whether or not it's reused. If it is, then it's just as weak as "123456" because with it, an attacker will need no more than a few seconds to try it against the rest of your accounts and compromise them. A strong password is, among other things, unique.
Ignoring two-factor authentication
Even if it is long, random, and unique, your password could still get stolen which is why it's important to have another mechanism for protecting your data. Two-factor authentication means that the online service will require an additional temporary password that it generates and sends to you before giving you (or an attacker) access to your account. More and more websites offer two-factor authentication, and since it's a feature that will put a spanner in the crooks' wheels under most circumstances, keeping it turned off makes no sense.
Sharing too much information on the Internet
The Internet is all about information. Every now and again, however, it pays to stop and think about what you're sharing and who you're sharing it with. Lots of online tasks require an account nowadays, and it's easy to lose track of how many profiles you've created over the last few years. The more accounts you have, the greater the number of potential points of failure. Be more careful with the websites you're using and with the information they gather about you. If you're not required to give out your personal data, don't do it. If you are, take the time to see how it will be used.
Putting too much trust in websites, emails, links, and files
In some cases, cybercriminals take your data by hacking a website you use. In others, they attempt to pry it away from you, and they're constantly coming up with more and more clever ways of doing it. In most cases, their schemes involve an action on your part, and instead of thinking that you're too savvy to take the bait, you should probably start regarding every single phone call, email, and online ad with extra suspicion.
Identity theft is a very real threat now, and the "It won't happen to me" argument is not valid. The Internet is such a huge part of our lives that even if you try to limit the time you spend on it, you still can't be sure that the personal information you'll inevitably give out won't be compromised in some way. What you can do, however, is try to make identity thieves' lives a bit more difficult.