How to Avoid Identity Theft and What to do if You are a Victim

id-theft-keyboard-fingerThere have been many large data breaches over the last several years, exposing consumer credit card numbers, banking information, and even Social Security numbers. Despite the efforts of corporations to protect data, hackers still find ways to break through and obtain information, sometimes putting it up for sale on the dark web.

With the prevalence of online exchange and storage of information, data security incidents are likely to continue. There are two situations that tend to put the confidential information of people at risk: online purchases and employee data.

Fortunately, you can take steps to lower your risk of identity theft. Learn more below.

Security During Online Shopping

When you shop online, there are several precautions you can take to lower your risk of identity theft.

  • PASSWORDS: Surprisingly, people often use passwords that are incredibly simple and easy for hackers to figure out. Many people also fail to update their passwords, despite the media attention on data breaches and the importance of having strong passwords. Use complex and diverse passwords and change them regularly.
  • NETWORK SECURITY: If you are shopping at home, whether on a laptop or your smartphone, make sure your Wi-Fi network is password protected. You can also subscribe to a virtual private network to further secure your network.  While it may be convenient to login to a Wi-Fi network at a restaurant or coffee shop, avoid accessing sensitive information at these locations. These networks are free and usually do not have much security.
  • VENDOR SECURITY: Before making an online purchase, research the security measures the company has taken. Does the website look old and unsecure? If this is the case, you may want to avoid making a purchase and risk exposing your bank account information.

Preventing Data Theft as an Employee

Unfortunately, there are limits to your ability to protect your personal information as an employee. Employee data security is the responsibility of your employer, including the security of the servers your company uses, as well as security measures on computers and mobile devices.

However, there are still measures you can take to reduce the risk of identity theft as an employee:

  • PASSWORDS: With all work situations, use strong passwords that are difficult for hackers to figure out.
  • DEVICE USE: Keep your work computer and other devices locked when you leave your desk or step away from these devices. While it may be easier to use your personal laptop at times, follow your employer’s rules about using company-issued devices. These rules are put in place to protect your information, along with the information of everyone else who works at your company.
  • LIMIT INFORMATION: Avoid storing personal information or accessing personal accounts on company-issued laptops or devices. If there is a data breach, this information could be obtained by hackers. If you are applying for a job, you can refrain from providing your Social Security number until you are actually hired. 
  • NETWORK SECURITY: If you are working remotely, connect to the virtual private network provided by your employer, which can help prevent hackers from gaining access to your computer or device.

If you are unsure about what security measures your employer has in place, ask for clarification.

What Should I Do If I am a Victim of Identity Theft?

It is likely that you, or someone you know, has suffered a data breach, perhaps without realizing it. Yet 64 percent of Americans have never checked to see if their personal information may have been compromised. Our legal team recommends checking for possible data breaches regularly.

If your personal information has been compromised in a security incident, there are measures you can take to protect your identity:

Place fraud alerts on your credit reports. You can obtain a free credit report from each of the three bureaus to search for any fraudulent activities.

Check your financial accounts for fraudulent activity.

Report fraud promptly to ensure that you get your money back. If you wait, it is harder for the bank or credit card company to verify that funds were fraudulently obtained because of identity theft.

Keep a record of the actions you took after learning about a potential data breach. This includes the names of people you talked to, dates of conversations, and correspondence from credit bureaus.

Have Questions About What to do After Identity Theft?

Call the Arnold Law Firm at (916) 777-7777 for a free, no-obligation legal consultation. We are here to help you by answering your questions and discussing legal options.