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How to Protect Yourself From Hackers and Identity Theft

October 11, 2018 No Comments

Featured article by Susan Melony, Independent Technology Author

Protecting yourself from hackers and identity theft is more important than ever before, but also more challenging than at any other point in time. While cloud-based technology and apps can make life easier and more convenient, it can also expose you to even more threats in terms of your information being available and floating around for hackers and cybercriminals to grab.

If someone gets access to let’s say your Social Security number, they can then take out loans in your name, which can wreak havoc on your credit score and many other areas of your life. Your FICO score is used by 90 percent of lenders in the U.S.

If there’s a problem damaging that score, even if you can ultimately get it corrected, it can take time and be difficult. It’s better in many cases to be as proactive as possible when protecting your personal and financial information.

The following are some things to keep in mind regarding protecting yourself from hackers in general and also protecting yourself from identity theft.

Enroll in a Credit Monitoring Service

There are a lot of great credit monitoring services out there, and many are free. One option is something like Credit Karma. You can sign up for Credit Karma, and you can check your credit report whenever you want for free. The company will also send alerts when there are changes to enrolled member’s credit reports.

This is valuable because you can find out as soon as possible if something happens, which allows you to be more proactive in checking it out.

Email Protection

You might underestimate the importance of protecting your email accounts—but think about all of the personal and financial information that flows through your email on a daily basis.

While you may be able to set up credit reporting monitoring, protecting your email can be trickier because hackers can break in and you may never notice it.

You should regularly log out of your email accounts both on your computers and on your mobile devices Whenever possible you should also use two-step verification. It may take a little longer to login when you have to wait for a code to be sent to your phone, but it’s extremely helpful to protect yourself.

Try to make it a priority to regularly check on the state of your email account as well. For example, check your trash folder to see if there are emails in there that you didn’t send. You can also look at your recent activity and see the locations where your email was recently accessed from.

Protecting Your Smartphone

As was touched on above, technology is an amazing thing, and most of us are very dependent on our smartphones every day. They can also leave us vulnerable to hacks and cyber attacks, however.

With your smartphone, even though it can be annoying to wait for new updates to complete, you should make sure you always keep your phone up to date. Usually hackers are most successful at breaching smartphones when someone hasn’t updated their device and there are vulnerabilities as a result.

When you’re on your smartphone and you want access to apps or something else, you may be pretty willing to grant broad permissions to whatever it is you’re trying to use. However, you should be very careful about what you really are allowing and providing permission for.

Are you allowing permission for the app you’re installing to access your files or your microphone for example?

If your phone is ever stolen, you should ensure it’s password protected, but you can go beyond that as well.

Some people go as far as setting up their phone so that it automatically erases itself once someone tries too many times to enter incorrect passcodes. This is a step you would probably only take if you, for example, use your smartphone for work and there’s a lot of sensitive information on it.

There are also service available on both Apple and Google devices that allow you to find your device if it’s stolen, and you can remotely opt to lock it or erase it.

Protection Apps

Finally, there are a wide variety of apps that you can use to protect yourself. Identity Guard is a good one for Android. Log Dog is also great because it can help you keep tabs of all your logins and accounts across many different sites, including social media. You can use Log Dog to receive alerts if there’s suspicious activity on any of your accounts and not just your credit report.




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