Bad habits. We all have them. Whether it’s something simple like a late-night visit to the cookie jar or a more serious vice that directly impacts health and wellbeing, habitual patterns are a natural part of being human. Luckily, breaking just about any habit is more than possible – depending on your commitment to change and self-control. Twenty-one days is the number that gets commonly touted, while scientific studies indicate that changing ingrained behavioral patterns for good can take anywhere from 18-254 days.
It’s essential to keep best practices in mind when it comes to reducing the possibility of identity theft. The bad habits that increase your risk of identity theft are easy to avoid but are also easy to become accustomed to. The good news is that breaking any of the behaviors mentioned here can be much more straightforward than other everyday habits – especially when you understand the potential perils they pose.
Bad Habit #1 – Password Problems
If you pay any attention to modern cybersecurity and privacy advice, you’ve undoubtedly heard the advice that simple, common passwords should be avoided. You also never want to get in the habit of using the same password in multiple places. This goes for any digital account you hold, be that from your financial institutions, your Netflix account, etc. Despite this advice being commonly known and widespread, most people still tend to use passwords that are easy for threat actors to guess without much effort.
A recent assessment of the most commonly used passwords in 2021 showed that 123456, 123456789, and qwerty were the top three used out of over 15 billion taken into account. You better believe that cybercriminals are aware of this, not that it takes much of a criminal mastermind to crack such a simple code. The same assessment also noted that just over 2 billion of these passwords were unique, representing around 15% of the total.
If you are in the habit of using one of these common passwords or reuse the same password for multiple accounts, you need to change things up immediately. Your information is likely already available due to a data breach, considering there have been over 6 billion (and counting) data records stolen in the US alone since 2013. Using a complicated and unique password for each of your accounts is an easy solution to help keep your identity more secure.
Bad Habit #2 – Keeping Loose Tabs on Your Personal Information
Personally, identifiable information (PII) functions as a productive gold mine for cyberthieves. Equipped with any combination of unique data to an individual, criminals can perpetrate a number of cyber scams. If you are in the habit of providing PII when it’s not necessary or are generally loose with what companies or services that you grant access to this information, you are likely setting yourself up for an identity theft situation soon than later.
Certainly, never divulge your PII to unsolicited sources. Common scammer tactics include phishing (via email) or vishing (via telephone) that have the sole intention of trying to convince victims into providing personal information. If you receive an email or phone, call out of the blue from an unknown source trying to “confirm your personal information,” or simply asking you to verify or provide your name, address, or other important information, it is almost certainly a scam.
It’s always best to be tight-lipped and protective of your PII. Even if asked for this information by a reputable source, ensure that it is necessary before doing so. You should never assume that the communication is secure, and you must remain diligent in order to limit the risk of the information getting into the wrong hands. This sage advice applies to both online and in-person communications. It’s better to be skeptical than overly trusting when it comes to protecting your PII.
Bad Habit #3 – Not Checking Financial Accounts/Statements
One of the keys to limiting the scope of an identity theft incident is to catch it early. Keeping a keen eye on your financial accounts and statements is critical in this regard. If you avoid checking these often or simply don’t think to, an identity theft situation can slip by unnoticed for far too long. Credit card fraud is still widespread and can happen to anyone with a credit or debit account. The longer things go unnoticed, the more money there is to be pilfered.
Check your statements and accounts regularly for any unknown or unauthorized activity or spending. Many institutions have fraud assistance measures in place that limit your liability for unauthorized charges, but you still want to catch things as soon as possible. Keeping tabs on your credit report is another way to spot unknown activity that can indicate potential identity theft.
Bad Habit #4 – Unsecure Online Spending
We all love a good deal online, and there are certainly savings out there. But not every e-commerce or shopping site is legitimate and secure. Before entering credit card numbers or other personal information on a webpage for a purchase, make sure that the website you are visiting is authentic. Look for https:// in the URL instead of just http://. The “S” (for secure) indicates that a website has secure shopping measures in place. A lock symbol is another indicator that a website is using encryption measures to protect your data.
You can also do some quick research into the company or website to make sure that it is legitimate. If you can’t find any customer reviews or contact information, there’s a good possibility that the website is a scam. And if a deal seems too good to be true, it very likely is.
Bad Habit #5 – Not Having Identity Theft Restoration Plan
Instances of cyber fraud continue to rise, and there is no surefire way to prevent it from happening to you. Rather than letting the inevitable happen without having a plan in place, restoration services can limit the scope and severity of the fallout from identity theft. It’s not worth risking the monetary losses and lingering consequences that are possible and often associated with identity theft. Having restoration coverage in place ahead of time for yourself and your family can pay off immensely.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*LibertyID defines an extended family as: you, your spouse/partner, your parents and parents-in-law, and your children under the age of 25.