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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • 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 The FTC will generate a customized recovery plan.