Business Advice & Ideas

How not to fall victim to identity theft


14 Nov 2020

Experts say consumer fraud resulted to more than $1.9 billion in 2019 with the bulk of cases involving identity theft. Working from home in the new normal exposes us to more risks but there are ways to protect ourselves against cybercrime attacks.
The Coronavirus pandemic pushed working from home (WFM) as the new norm though the trend has been significantly practiced even before then thanks to the ever-evolving technologies like email, Whatsapp, Facetime, Skype, Zoom, and so on that doesn’t require one to be in the office full-time to engage in meetings or group activities.
Working remotely does have its perks such as skipping the daily onerous commute, convenience, easy access to meals and snacks when you want it, spending more time with your family, among other things. But it also poses dangers like identity theft. The Insurance Information Institute reported cybercrimes in 2019 cost consumers more than $1.9 billion, the bulk of which involved fraud through identity theft. 
Experts warned the number of identity theft cases have been rising mainly due to negligence which is avoidable. It not only causes dreadful stress but agonizing psychological and emotional pressure knowing that a stranger has intruded your cyber-domain – the physical equivalent of which would be your home.
When someone gets inside your “sanctum,” out goes important information that would give access to say, your credit card, bank account, even insurance. It is just as dangerous for businesses. And so, experts strongly point out that protecting personal data has never been so vital as now.

Studies showed most people working remotely tend to play down issues about personal data security. According to them, it’s easy to ignore the presence of identity theft until it happens to you or someone close to you.

There are actually measures you can take so you could sleep well at night after you shut down your desktop or laptop. Here are some of them.

  • Secure your home network: With this, there’s no better place to begin but with your router. Make sure your device has encryption options – often referred to as WPA2 or WPA3. This scrambles messages such that outsiders could not decipher it.   If your router doesn’t have one, the opt for a replacement. If you are WFH, talk to your office IT team to ensure that it meets their needs.

  • Choose a reliable internet service provider: Not only do you need a fast and efficient internet provider but one that also offers wide connectivity and good customer service that will be there when you encounter problems.

  • Strong passwords help: Easy passwords like birthdays that are easy to guess defeat the purpose of protecting your devices as they remain – in fact, even more – vulnerable to hackers. In this light, experts recommend long passwords of about 12 characters composed of upper and lower cases, symbols and numbers. Steer clear of personal information like your name or initials or, yes, birthdates like people did on the past.

  • Be aware about phishing scams: Scammers are taking advantage of the Coronavirus to victimize people. Phishing comes in the form of emails, text messages and phone calls cloaked as something coming from your boss or associates, even colleagues at work who also are working from home. Here’s what to look for to know if it is a phishing attempt: a request to provide sensitive information about yourself; the verifying information from the sender – your boss, for instance – does not match; spelling errors in the email; dubious links or attachments; and urgency in the manner the message was written, which was meant to stir frenzy.
  • Always update: When you get a notification about an update, don’t ignore it. You are making yourself vulnerable and compromising your security the more you forego it by clicking the “Remind me later” button. These updates pop up because, as experts explain, the makers or manufacturers could have noticed a security breach or holes in the software and taken necessary remedies to deny hackers access to your computer. This also goes true with your security software. 

  • Follow your employer’s security protocols: As your home has become a satellite office, it goes without saying that you should work in a manner where you observe security procedures like you do when working in the office in accordance with management policies.
Keep those hackers at bay with those easy steps. Stay safe and secure your identity while working from home with or without the pandemic.