With consumers conducting more and more business online, the opportunities for identity theft are increasing exponentially. Identity thieves target those who are less than vigilant with their online security. To avoid being victimized, security experts recommend taking specific steps to minimize the risk of online identity theft. Here are a few of the most commonly cited identity theft tips.
Use strong passwords and change them often.
Remembering complex passwords is difficult, which leads many consumers to use the same password for all the sites they visit. Hackers know people tend to be lazy with passwords and, when one site is compromised, the passwords stolen will often work for banking and shopping sites. To thwart hackers, security experts strongly recommend users not use the same, or even similar, passwords.
Because remembering multiple complex passwords is almost impossible, password managers are becoming popular. Management software keeps track of all passwords. Users only have to remember one complex password. Password managers also make it easier to routinely change individual site passwords often, further reducing the potential for online identity theft.
Don’t fall for phishing schemes.
The Internet is rife with scammers masquerading as banks and credit card companies. Some are quite sophisticated, with pages mirroring authentic sites. Identity theft avoidance experts point out the credit card issuers and banks do not send messages asking customers to update sensitive information online. When any suspicious message is received, computer experts recommend not even opening the message, as it could contain malicious software. However, it is a good idea to notify the company or bank to let them know the message was received.
Keep security software updated.
Security software and firewalls are the first line of defense for minimizing online threats. Online reviewers frequently test security software and report on the effectiveness of popular security software offerings. Some of the best security software is even free, which makes it easy to download and install the software currently regarded as the best for protecting home computers and other devices. Make sure the software is updated automatically whenever that option is available.
Even the best security may not always be effective.
Because hackers are always looking for new ways to circumvent security software, the potential for online identity theft will always be there. Keep track of all bank accounts and monitor credit card use frequently. Report any issues discovered and take immediate steps to freeze your credit if any problems are noted.