We are living in uncertain times when you can wake up to find yourself as the main suspect in a murder or fraud case or suddenly in debt. The catch, however, is that you are certain you committed no crime and your credit score is very stable. Such is the harsh reality of identity theft and an even bigger problem is that once it starts, it may never stop and anyone could be a target as this reporter from the Los Angeles Times harshly found out. How then do you protect yourself from being the victim of identity theft?
1. Safely secure all identification documents
Secure documents that hold privileged identification information such as your social security card, credit card, identification card and many others to prevent theft. The best policy would be to not walk around with them unless they are absolutely necessary and even then, you should keep them safely hidden and out of reach.
2. Subscribe to a premium VPN service
With the internet being such a huge part of our lives, it is not sufficient to simply lock down your documents. Internet access creates a huge trail of personal information, making it one of the greatest risks to your identity. Understanding what a VPN is and how it works might go a long way in helping you utilize it to its fullest potential. Even so, you should know that this is one of the best steps you can take towards remaining anonymous and protecting your online identity.
3.Install protective software on your devices
Even with a premium VPN, hackers can still gain access to your device and information by spreading malicious programs. Once installed, they could be used to record keystrokes, steal passwords, extort you as in the case of the recent WannaCry attacks, and so much more damage. Your best defense against such threats is using antivirus software equipped with features that could detect and prevent access to such malware and even purge them from your devices upon detection.
4.Subscribe to an identity protection service
While the first three steps involve actions that you can take personally, there are still far too many access points to your identity. You should take it a step further and hire an identity protection service firm to guard your information against unseen threats. These services offer constant monitoring and update services on various aspects of your identity such as credit cards, offering a protective cover for your child’s identity, and going so far as to include insurance cover for when the worst happens.
5. Scrutinize your interactions
In the end, you are as strong as your weakest link. It is best to remain proactive by informing your friends and acquaintances about identity theft rather than reactive when their weak systems are used as a conduit to steal your identity. Make sure that anyone with access to sensitive information regarding your identity takes precautions to keep that information safe.
What can be done after the fact?
Even with all these and more measures, it is still plausible though difficult, you may still end up a victim of identity theft. The benefit of having such measures in place in a situation like this is that you will receive early notification and can take early precautions before much damage is done. One of the very first things to do is inform the relevant authorities, which will depend on the type of identity at risk. Then you should prevent access to that identity, such as canceling credit cards in the event of credit card theft. After that, the authorities will follow up on the case and apprehend the culprit or at the very least prevent further damage to your identity. The identity protection service can be very useful in this scenario as well.