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8 simple ways to protect yourself against identity theft

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Jenna Delport
Jenna Delport
I’m a tech writer, world traveller, avocado-eater and dog lover, not always in that order.

Are you doing enough to reduce the risk of having your identity stolen? As you start the New Year, this is a good time to reflect on what kind of measures you should take to prevent thieves from stealing and using your Personally Identifiable Information (PII) for fraudulent activities.

As more and more of our personal information is online and cybercriminals target everything from bank accounts to tax refunds, identity theft is a growing concern. With your sensitive information in their hands, crooks can make fraudulent purchases, open new accounts or apply for loans in your name, says Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET South Africa.

Taking steps to protect your identity on and offline is important. Here are eight tips on securing your devices and identity:

1. Second guess personal information requests

Every time you are asked for personal information make sure the request is legitimate and question whether it is necessary and avoid oversharing on social media.

2. Monitor accounts

Frequently monitor your financial accounts and open physical mails in a timely fashion to watch for any strange transactions.

3. Be aware of SIM Swapping

Don’t forget to protect your mobile phone account. There is a growing issue of SIM swapping. This is where someone takes control of your phone number by getting a replacement SIM – phone companies will issue a new SIM with very little information about the subscriber.

Once the cybercriminals control your phone number, they reset passwords and emails for online services. Your phone is the way many companies including banks confirm your identity to secure the account with a pin number and any other way that they provide security on the account.

4. Use Passphrases

Anything connected to your home network needs to have unique passwords that update software. Use passphrases not just simple passwords or use a password manager that creates complex passwords for you.

5. Implement multi-factor authentication 

Implement multi-factor authentication– it’s the option to use an app or SMS messenger to receive or generate a number that confirms your identity when logging in or transacting, an app is more secure than SMS.

6. Invest in Anti-malware 

Make sure you have anti-malware software installed and updated on all your devices – even your Smart TVs.

7. Understand Encryption

Switch on whole device encryption so that if a device gets stolen, they won’t be able to access the data.

8. Shred documents

Shred documents that have personal information on them even if it’s just your name and address on it.

Edited by Jenna Delport

Follow Jenna Delport on Twitter

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