When the Unthinkable Happens
Online identity theft is a lot like a car accident — you hear about it on the news or you know friends who have suffered through it, but you might think it’s unlikely to happen to you. You’re careful about your online interaction; you only friend people you really know on social media, and you never use the name of your child or dog for a password. You’re probably careful on the roadway, too. Yet that doesn’t mean someone else’s actions won’t cause you to be in a car accident.
Increasing Online Identity Theft
According to a Pew Research Center study, around 18 percent of adults who access the Internet experienced a breach of personal information in 2014 so far. That’s up from 11 percent for the period in 2013. No one who accesses the Internet is safe; even children can be victims.
The Pew Research study also broke identity theft numbers down by age groups and other demographics.Young adults are at the highest risk, according to the report. According to the data, 55 percent of individuals aged 18 to 29 with Internet access reported experiencing an issue with breach of information.
Protecting Your Information
Like driving on the road, accessing the Internet comes with an inherent risk. Still, you can take safety precautions to protect yourself from online identity theft. Begin by taking a common sense approach to Internet activity, like:
- When possible, stick to well-known sites and avoid downloads that don’t come from trusted sources.
- Use software to scan your computer for spyware and other risks.
- Use strong password protocols that include numbers and characters, and change passwords on a normal basis.
- Check your credit report regularly or invest in credit monitoring services so you can act quickly to repair issues if you do experience a breach.
- Have any documents with sensitive and confidential information (like your social security number or banking account information) professionally shredded.
Do you know someone who’s been a victim of online identity theft?