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How to Protect Yourself from Identity Theft and Cyberattacks

Identity theft can make your life unbearable. When you’ve never been its victim, it can feel like it’ll never happen to you. 1 in 3 Americans have experienced it, meaning there’s a 33.33% chance of being a casualty of this crime.

If you’re not yet an identity theft or cyberattack victim, you could stay that way. All it takes is to put in place strategies that can prevent this crime from hitting you. In this article, you’ll discover the methods you can use for this purpose.

Let’s go over those strategies.



Avoid Sharing Your Social Security Number Over the Internet


The use of social security numbers (SSNs) has evolved over the years. Initially, SSNs were used by the government to track your income and for paying retirement benefits.

Today, your SSN makes a lot of things possible. A thief could access your name and social security number and fraudulently borrow money or open a bank account.

With increased online purchases, as many as 87% of people’s personal information is at risk of being stolen. You can avoid being a victim of identity theft by staying away from sharing your SSN over the internet.

If government agencies ask for your SSN, check the disclosure form. You’ll find out whether giving them the number is mandatory or optional. If it’s optional, don’t give it.

Businesses may also ask you for your SSN. Ask them if you could provide an alternative form of identification.


Protect Your Accounts With Two-Factor Authentication


Do you have an online account, such as a bank or subscription account for a service? If so, identity thieves could gain unauthorized access to them.

The solution is to set up a two-factor authentication (2FA). This system uses two factors to verify that it’s you who wants to access your account. For instance, you could use a password and a one-time PIN. An identity thief will need to have both factors to gain access to your account.

Make sure that all your accounts at financial institutions and other important accounts have 2FA.


Place a Credit Freeze With All Three National Credit Bureaus


A credit freeze, also called a security freeze, prevents access to your credit report kept by credit bureaus. Without this access, no one can open new credit on your name

You can place a security freeze for free at any of the three major nationwide credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Don’t worry; you can temporarily uplift it when you want to open a credit account.

A security freeze won’t impact your credit score if you place it. You’ll still be eligible to get one free credit report from each of the three nationwide credit bureaus.


Avoid Clicking on Any Emails From the Internal Revenue Service


Scammers have a tendency to use phishing emails to get your personal information. Knowing that many people trust the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), scammers attempt to phish for personal data.

Typical scam IRS emails promise recipients tax refunds and request the recipient to click a link provided. Unsuspecting people fall victim to these phishing emails. Scammers steal their identities and use them to commit fraud.

The IRS has made it clear that they don’t contact taxpayers like you through channels such as social media, text messages, or email. When you see an email from the IRS, ignore it. If you can’t ignore it, report the suspect email.


Conclusion


Identity theft and cyberattacks are real. With the spread of ecommerce, many people have their personal information on the internet. This can expose them to identity theft and cyberattacks.

Avoid falling victim to them by protecting your SSN, creating 2FA on all your online accounts, avoiding emails that look like they come from the IRS, and placing a credit freeze on your credit report.

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