Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft

Cyberattacks are a common way for identity thieves to access your personal information. Understand how these attacks happen so you can prevent them!

How Do Cyberattacks Happen?

Phishing Emails:

Cybercriminals will try to trick you into giving up personal information by way of a fake email.

Tip:

  • Don’t open attachments or links in emails you aren’t expecting.

Fake Calls (Vishing):

Internal Revenue Service (IRS), banks, or other major services (like Amazon) will very rarely request personal information over the phone. Calls like these are fake.

Tip:

  • Do not return voicemails about “compromised accounts.” Instead, review account activity online, then report the fake call to that service.

Fake Texts (Smishing):

Watch out for texts that request sensitive information like passwords, bank accounts, or credit card numbers.

Tip:

  • Most banks will never text you with information about your account. Call your financial institution’s direct line to verify any suspicious texts.

Social Media Phishing:

Direct messages from fake accounts.

Tip:

  • If you click a link in a direct message that appears to be from a familiar account, but it prompts you to re-enter your log-in credentials, it is fake.

Protecting Your Personal Information

These simple actions will help you stay one step ahead of cyberattacks and give you a plan if your information becomes compromised.

Actions:

  • Ensure you have updated antivirus software and firewall running before you go online.
  • Regularly back up your files. Back up on multiple drives in case a device fails.
  • Set up a credit monitoring service to know when you’ve been compromised so you can act quickly.
  • Enable two-factor authentication wherever possible.
  • Create unique passwords of at least 12 characters, and use letters, numbers, and symbols.
  • Keep security programs, browser plugins, and all other software up to date.

Report the Attack

If you find out your information was compromised, report it at identitytheft.gov. The FTC will generate a customized recovery plan.