I am a recent victim to identity theft so I thought I’d share my experience so that you don’t have to deal with what I had to go through.
There are just too many people out there that will do anything and everything to take someone’s hard earned money and although we want it to stop, these criminals will do whatever it takes to steal money.
What is Identity Theft?
Justice.gov said it best, “a crime”. This is nothing more than another individual or individuals taking your information and using it wrongfully to gain personal pleasure, usually in the form of money.
This Could Never Happen to Me, I Own a Mac!
That’s exactly what I thought. So I ended up learning the hard way. A couple of days ago, I had a buddy of mine message me on FB and asked me why I was asking weird questions in an online community that we’re apart of.
Mind you, I was still a little intoxicated and I had no choice but to get up at 3am and see what was going on.
This hacker got into my account and started talking to other members asking them how he can withdraw “his” funds.
He changed my profile pic and my name then tried to withdraw my money. Good thing they only pay monthly, so he wasn’t successful there.
He got into my Paypal account changed my email to his. He got into my Gmail and deleted my account. He pretty much changed my whole online world around in a matter of hours.
I want to share with you, a couple of valuable lessons from that one day in hell so that you don’t ever have to deal with this type of nonsense.
10 Ways To Avoid Identity Theft
Having your identity taken can ruin someone’s life. I have come up with 10 + 1 ways to make sure you don’t become a victim to identity theft.
1.) Always Get Antivirus Protection
I own a Mac and one of the reasons for choosing Mac was that I heard you didn’t need to use any antivirus protection. Obviously that is not the case.
I don’t care what type of computer you own, ALWAYS use an antivirus software. You can find these for free online, so there is no excuse as to why you don’t have your computer protected.
Personally, I use Norton Antivirus. When I used to own a PC I always had this installed. It wasn’t until I got my identity taken that I now use it for my Mac.
2.) Use a Strong Password
I know we all want things to be simple, so we use something that we can remember easily. I don’t think it would hurt to add a couple of numbers and crazy symbols to the mix if it meant more protection right?
My suggestion to you, make your password 10 characters long and include lower and upper case letters along with numbers and symbols.
3.) Don’t Use the Same Password For All of Your Accounts
This was the biggest mistake I made and one of the biggest lessons I’ve learned. Never use the same password for all your accounts.
I am associated with many membership sites and I pretty much do everything you can possibly do online. Please make sure that you don’t use the same password for your bank account and other normal sites.
I had the same password for every single thing I did online and that is a big no no. Along with the crazy characters, make them all different.
4.) Keep Everything Updated
Make sure you have everything up to date. From your website browser, to your flash players, make sure they are constantly updated.
Some people get their identity taken, because they were still using an outdated version of Flashplayer. Don’t get your identity taken, just because you were too lazy to update something.
5.) Use 3rd Party Payment Processors
I always recommend you pay with a payment processor. Always. We all shop online and pay bills online all the time and there is nothing wrong with that.
If you aren’t using Paypal or Payza, you might want to consider doing so. This just takes you away from pulling out your credit card and exposing your information to the world.
6.) Clear Browser History
Every now and then (I say biweekly) you should clear out your browser history. There is so much stuff that is stored there and you probably don’t even know it.
Yes it will take away your quick fill in the blank feature, but you can do without that. Just clear out your history and you leave the hackers with a harder target.
7.) Do Not Use the “Save Password” Feature
Another big mistake on my part. I had Chrome save all my passwords and I think that’s how this dude was able to access all my accounts.
I say dude, because this hacker tried to get into my Paypal account and change my info to his and tried to transfer a thousand dollars to himself.
That didn’t work, which is a good thing. Don’t leave any blank spaces with valuable information stored on your computer. All this can happen overnight. Literally.
8.) Never Share Valuable Information with ANYONE
Although this is a no brainer, you still need to know this. I don’t care how much you trust your brother or mom, they do not need to know any of your personal information.
If they want to have access to something, do it for them, but don’t let them know your passwords, your pin numbers, and most especially your social security number.
9.) Have More Than One Email Account
I’m a very simple guy and I like to have one email address control everything I do online. After what just happened, this simple dude is now a lot more complicated.
Have an email address that you use for Facebook and whatnot, but use a different one for more sensitive things so that you can give the hacker more work to find out more information about you.
10.) Always Logout
As much as I like to get on my computer and start doing business, I now logout of everything I login to. Even Facebook!
To end this, I’d like to add #11. Being that you will now have many passwords, most of us won’t be able to remember all of them, so we might need to write them down somewhere.
I wouldn’t have it stored on a notepad online, because you will just be screwing yourself big time. If you absolutely have to store it, write it down and hide that note somewhere that only you know about.
I hope these tips will help you to avoid identity theft, because trust me, it is not a good feeling. I don’t want anyone to deal with what I had to go through, so please, please, protect your identity!