Ever put your credit card details into an online store where the prices are insanely cheap, only for the “order” to never reach your door? Or perhaps you’ve been at the end of a suspicious call by an “eBay employee” asking for your computer’s login details?
These examples aren’t just frustrating customer service experiences — they’re fairly common attempts at identity theft. What’s worse, such cases are firmly on the rise, with 15 million people in the U.S. reported being experiencing identity theft every single year.
These fraudsters aren’t backing off anytime soon, so it’s your responsibility to protect yourself from extortion. Luckily, you don’t have to break the bank to achieve this. Keep reading to discover four proven, cost-effective ways to secure your online identity.
1. Use Strong Passwords and Change Them Often
If someone logs onto a site and pretends to be you, they can ruin your identity. It’s really that simple. So choose passwords that no one will guess and change them frequently.
As far as creating a strong password goes, sophistication is the name of the game. A good rule of thumb is to build out acronyms. Use a verse, song lyrics, or another phrase that has some significance to you (and that you will remember) to create your password. For instance, “TheChbJE” is a password generated from the first letters in the title of a favourite book, “The Candy House by Jennifer Egan.” Although it is a longer password, the user is more likely to recall it because it relates to something they enjoy. On the other hand, online fraudsters are less likely to guess it, even if they’re familiar with your literal tastes. The best part? None of this will cost you a dime.
2. Steer Clear of Suspicious Links
This might sound like a no-brainer, but every day there’s a new scheme to get you to click on a link you don’t recognize from a seemingly trustworthy source. And just because you’ve avoided a suspect link before doesn’t mean you can’t fall victim to one in the future. In fact, fraudsters have gotten so smart that they’re now crafting websites that look more and more like the real thing.
If you’re sceptical about a link or any of its contents, reach out to the sender to ascertain its validity. Doing so will cost you no more than a few minutes — which, let’s face it, is more bearable than being embroiled in a phishing scam.
3. Keep a Close Eye on Your Credit
If you suspect that your identity might have been stolen, there’s no better place to start your inquest than your credit report. Therein, you’ll find a succinct summary of past purchases, existing debt, account inquiries, and open accounts. If you stumble upon any discrepancies or new activity, report it straight away and then freeze your credit immediately to thwart any further efforts by fraudsters.
How often should you check your credit history? Well, as frequently as you possibly can. The good news is that you’re entitled to a free credit report every 12 months. Once again, this will cost you nothing but time.
4. Use a Top-Rated Identity Theft Protection Service
I can hear you asking, “Wait, you mean it’s possible to get top-tier identity theft protection services without having to break the bank?” The answer is a resounding yes.
Truth is, not many identity theft protection services are worth their weight in gold; some are outright subpar. Ironically enough, these are the ones that charge customers an arm and a leg for “comprehensive protection.” But why settle for mediocre software when you can get next-level protection at better rates?
For example, LifeLock is currently offering a coupon for a discount that will get you up to 25 per cent off your first year for the same top-of-the-line features: scanning for identity theft, monitoring and alerts for your Social Security number and credit agencies, free credit scores, and so much more.
You’re Only One Step Away From Top-Tier Identity Theft Protection
One thing is crystal clear from this article: better protection doesn’t always have to cost a fortune. The trick is to be proactive, diligent, and smart about how you protect your identity online. If something seems fishy or out of the ordinary, report it right that instant. If it’s something you can handle, do so without hesitation. It’s even better if you can leave it all to an affordable, top-rated identity theft protection software. Stay safe online, folks.
Hardeep has always been a Windows lover ever since she got her hands on her first Windows XP PC. She has always been enthusiastic about technological stuff, especially Artificial Intelligence (AI) computing. Before joining PC Error Fix, she worked as a freelancer and worked on numerous technical projects.