28 Nov Protecting Your Identity
Identity fraud and theft has a significant impact on a victim. Between lost funds and dealing with the aftermath of restoring one’s identity is an incredibly frustrating, tedious process. There are ways to be proactive in protecting your identity, such as credit freeze, credit monitoring, password management and complexity, insurance, and other security measures.
Credit monitoring. Credit montioring is your first line of defense. Apps like Credit Karma, Mint, and programs through your bank and credit card accounts (Creditwise by Capital One and Credit Journey by Chase) are connected to the three main credit bureaus (Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax) and provide notifications when there have been changes reported to your credit score. Not only do they notify you of changes to your credit, but also things that can affect your credit score. For example, if a breach occurs and any of your personal information is compromised (i.e., found on the dark web), the app will notify you of what information is compromised, where it was compromised, and ways to address the issue.
Credit freeze. If you’ve experienced identity theft, fraud, or attempts to commit identity theft or fraud, then you know how debilitating it can be to have your funds frozen and the maintenance to restore your accounts. One way to protect your accounts from future attacks could be a credit freeze. A credit freeze does not affect your credit score, it merely restricts access to your credit report which hinders an identity thief’s attempt to open new accounts in your name. For example, if you provide information, the business must contact you to verify whether you made the request or not. To enact a credit freeze, you must contact a credit bureau. The same process applies to temporarily lifting or permanently removing the credit freeze.
Password management and complexity. Another way to amp up your security is to ensure proper password management and complexity is followed. For example, using the same or similarly varied passwords (i.e., “ILikeCats23”, “ILikeDogs25”, etc.), simple or easily guessed passwords (i.e., “password”, “1234”, etc.), and storing passwords in limited to unprotected places are all red flags. If one account is hacked and these practices are followed, chances are most or all of your accounts will be hacked, thus increasing the amount of information obtained by identity thieves. To combat this, it is important to follow basic password protection protocols:
- Length: passwords should be at minimum 8 characters long, but the longer the better as it makes it more difficult to crack. For frame of reference: three-character passwords take less than a second to decipher.
- Repetition: Try to avoid characters and numbers that are sequential on the keyboard (i.e., “qwerty”). Inserting nonsensical phrases (i.e., not in dictionary, not published or found in popular literature, not grammatically correct) can make great passwords. Also, try to refrain from reusing passwords. Large-scale hackers oftentimes have lists of compromised email addresses and passwords. If passwords are reused, your other accounts and information could be compromised as well.
- Combinations: It is imperative to use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols. To make it easier for you to remember, you could switch out letters with symbols and numbers that look similar. For example, you could modify “Pugsareawesome!” to “Pug$ar3aw3$some!”
- Personal information: While they may be easier for you to remember, using information like birthdays, anniversaries, address, names of relatives or pets, etc. are ill-advised for password creations. They’re easier to guess.
There are password management systems that store, organize, and generate unique passwords. Some examples of password management systems include LastPass, 1Password, and Bitwarden. App security is also a growing issue in cybersecurity and identity theft.
Facebook has been the center of many lawsuits over problems such as unauthorized information sharing, a data breach, and misuse of facial recognition data. This is a prime example of how vital it is to protect your information on apps. Social media apps are not the only apps prone to security breaches and misuse of personal information. It is just as important to read privacy policies, staying up to date with breaking news of breaches, and taking the necessary precautions.
Don’t wait until it happens to you to take the necessary steps to protect your identity. There is only one you! Identity theft insurance is a great solution offered on commercial and personal levels that is available through Core ID Services. Equipped with experts in identity fraud and identity theft, we offer comprehensive credit monitoring and recovery services to quickly address attacks or attempts on stealing your identity. Whether you’re looking for monitoring, recovering, or simply looking to establish protection of your identity, Core ID Services can help. Contact us today for an in-depth discussion of identity theft solutions tailored to you.