Own Your Identity
August 21, 2017LeVar Battle By LeVar Battle: Sr. Manager, Social Media

Your Identity Is Yours. Here’s How To Keep It That Way.

Have you ever been out with friends, had a little too much to drink, and left your credit card in a bar? Or maybe you thought you’d stowed your child’s social security card safely away in your desk drawer, but now you can’t find it. It may seem like losing these items is just an inconvenience, but the reality is that simple slip-ups like these can spell disaster for you and your family.

According to NBC News, more than 15 million Americans were victims of identity theft last year alone, up 16 percent from 2015. And stolen credit or social security cards are just a couple of the ways identity thieves can invade your personal life, dealing major blows to your finances and even your reputation.

Unfortunately, the culprits behind identity theft can be anyone from family, friends, and neighbors to sophisticated cybercriminals.

“Most cybercriminals use automated tools to steal thousands, if not millions, of IDs at a time. Ensuring you have unique passwords for financial sites, avoiding public Wi-Fi in hotels and airports, and keeping backups of all your data are all important steps toward protecting yourself from identity theft. Finally, having a current, layered antivirus solution that not only protects against malicious files like ransomware, but also prevents phishing attacks and protects online browsing can close the loop on cybercriminals trying to do your and your family harm.”

-David Dufour, Senior Director of Engineering, Webroot

We recently took to the streets of Denver to get a feel for how average Americans are staying safe from identity theft. Their responses were not so surprising.

How to protect yourself from identity theft

With these types of malicious acts making the news more frequently than ever, why are people not taking more precautions with their identity? That’s not something we can answer, but we can give you a few tips on how to be safer with your identity:

  • Don’t send or receive private data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks or in public spaces.
  • Keep personal data encrypted when stored on devices.
  • Safely store (or destroy) physical documents that contain your private information, from credit cards to mail.
  • Freeze your credit. It sounds scary, but it isn’t. Freezing your score makes it harder for a criminal to open a new credit card account or take out a loan in your name. The FCC provides details on their website.
  • Know your credit score. There are many free services that help you keep track of your credit score, and make sure nothing phishy is going on.
  • Make sure all your devices are installed with up-to-date cybersecurity that protects you from all knows threats in real-time.

If you’re looking for more ways to protect yourself from identity theft, the federal government has a few more tips.

What if I’ve been a victim of identity theft?

The Federal Trade Commission has a useful one-stop-shop to help you repair the damage and recover from identity theft. The task may seem daunting, but at the end of the day, your identity is yours—and it should stay yours.

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31 Responses to Your Identity Is Yours. Here’s How To Keep It That Way.

  1. I was recently the victim of a physhing attack where it looked like apple was wanting me to authenticate my account. I called AppleCare and they said it was not really them. WATCH OUT!

  2. The best action one can take when you have received an email, and you’re not overly sure if it’s a legitimate email or not,… and It’s asking you to either, Login or authenticate, etc.

    Is to manually open up a browser and go to the website in question, this is far safer than clicking a click in an email that you may think of being suspect.

    I made it a routine to never click any web links in emails unless I’ve personally added it to a safe list and I’ve also changed my DNS server address with “OpenDNS” address, granted, this isn’t so much a protection against emails, though it can help add that extra layer of protection from malware etc.

  3. Just a word of advice (from personal experience):
    ANY time someone emails or calls you claiming to represent someone you do business with (bank, IRS, Microsoft, Apple, etc.), do NOT respond to their initial contact. Instead, call the company yourself, using a website or phone # you know and trust.

  4. Thank you Webroot. I feel safe with you watching over me. Is there anything else I should do. I have Identity Theft also for bank and credit card.

  5. How do you protect yourself from people who call your home stating that they are authorized Microsoft support teams, and that they have received reports that your computer is infected and could crash at any moment?

    • Tell them you want to be removed from their call lists and block whatever phone numbers they call from.
      You can also reach out to whoever provides your Phone Service to see what options they offer.

  6. Dont trust any email except close friends and family.
    Many places like pay pal and amazon are counterfited and send fake emails that when you click on them to open they are in your pc.

    • Ron is right! Always look closely at the Sender Address field, you can normally spot something that won’t look like it’s from the Official Company.

  7. Hi,

    Can you advise anything about Network Security? Someone told me that my WebRoot Secure Anywhere does not protect my network (such as printers that are networked, etc.).

    Is this true?

  8. Well how about this, we got a travel card to use on an overseas trip. The card came in tbe mail and we had it loaded and ready but never used it once(it was packed away ready for our trip… still stuck to the letter!) We wanted to check how many Euros we had put on it and it had been emptied. We still suspect the cards were “got at” during manufacture or in transit.

  9. I received a call in which I was told that my PC was “broken” and needed to be fixed immediately. I told the person calling that I had a Mac. That was the fastest hang-up ever.
    Then of course, there’s the one in which the IRS is calling you and telling you that you’re in deep doo-doo and you owe them megabucks and they’re taking you to court. Sorry, but the IRS doesn’t make robocalls.
    I live in Florida, which seems to be the epicenter of fraudulent schemes. There’s a new one every day.

  10. I have Webroot on my Laptop- how could I also have it on my cell phone with out paying for it twice- or do cell phones have somethin similar already installed?

  11. This article lists some good steps to take to prevent hackers from stealing your personal information, such as “Keep personal data encrypted when stored on devices”, and all these suggestions amount to good preventive steps, however… what good does all this do when every speck of important personal information about us has been stolen from credit bureaus (like Equifax) and retailers (like Target) who store our information on unencrypted servers?
    There is NO federal oversight of retailers regarding what security measures must be in place to prevent the theft of said information from their servers and there is very little oversight of the credit bureaus in this regard as well. 143 million Americans now have been violated in this way by Equifax and their personal information is out in the wild.
    Initiate credit freezes with those credit bureaus, you say? I have done just that and while I did
    receive letters of confirmation that my freezes were put in place, I was unable to talk to a human being at any of the three major credit bureaus and never received a response from the fourth one- the one few people know about : “Innovis” . There is NO way for the non-customer to talk to a human being at any of these agencies, yet they collect and sell our information to any company willing to pay for it. Even trying to dispute erroneous information on your credit report requires you to do so via mail or doing so online. One can be as diligent as possible with one’s own information, but when that same information is available to hackers from other sources which we have no control over, all our efforts are in vain.
    And why should a hacker even bother with trying to invade our personal computers when they can simply buy the information they want from “hackers central” on the Dark Web for $10 courtesy of Equifax? They are probably laughing all the way to the bank.

  12. My husband and I are renting a home as we just did our previous home and haven’t found another permanent home. I keep an eye on my credit score. My husband says our bank would let him know if his score goes down. I don’t agree. Anyways, should we freeze our credit score even though we are looking for a new home?

  13. I have a home security system. I signed a contract for several years How can I get out of it? They seemed to have gotten in some kind of trouble. The main company called me to see I was ok. I do not know what to do.

    • Hello, Janice.

      Unfortunately, that’s not something we can give advice on. I recommend contacting your Legal Representation to get their input on what steps you can take.

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