As a young adult, you have many financial responsibilities. Like clockwork, you must pay taxes, utility charges, rent, and various other bills to keep life moving. If you lose access to your credit cards, debit cards, bank accounts, or social security number (SSN), your life can become incredibly challenging.
According to experts, it can take 100-200 hours of work to recover from identity theft or an average of sixth months. In order to avoid dealing with the stress and the tedium, it’s best to take measures to protect yourself.
Recognize the Signs of Identity Theft
The first step to protect yourself from identity theft is to recognize the warning signs.
You suddenly stop receiving your bills
You start receiving bills and statements in your name that you don’t recognize
Creditors contact you about payments you don’t know
Debt collectors call you frequently and leave messages through robocalls
Tax agencies call to inquire about business income you don’t know about
Your bank and credit card statements show suspicious activity
If you receive a notification that you’re the victim of a data breach, you must verify the claim’s source. Many scammers try to gaslight their victims by calling them about nonexistent data breaches only to ask for their sensitive information. It’s essential for you to be wary of any messages asking for your sensitive information on the phone, email, or social media, as they could be sophisticated phishing expeditions.
Shield Yourself from Hackers
Cybercriminals may use an exploit attack to take advantage of your computer’s vulnerabilities and breach your privacy. Always keep your computer and devices updated to the latest version and don’t download untrustworthy programs.
Hackers also use different types of malware to attack your computer, such as keyloggers. This spyware quietly infects your system and sends your confidential information across the Internet. Use the latest cybersecurity software with real-time protection to stay onestep ahead of hackers.
It would help if you also secured your network from hackers with a firewall. For added security, subscribe to a reputable Virtual Private Network (VPN) service. A good VPN will encrypt your data on the Internet and even secure public WiFi networks for you. If you have asked questions like: what is a VPN and how can it protect me from identity theft, then learn more from cybersecurity experts.
In addition, call the three major credit bureaus to freeze your credit file. You can use a PIN to remove a freeze as soon as you’re ready to use your credit again.
Adopt Sensible Habits
Use strong passwords, update your computer, and don’t overshare on social media to protect your privacy. Likewise, monitor your credit reports and file your taxes early to keep scammers at bay.
Even if you do everything right, hackers may find a way to breach your defenses. If you’re the victim of identity theft, then file a report with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), call your financial institutions, submit a credit freeze, reset your password, and clean your computer and devices.