Don't Get Tricked, Let's Fight Identity Theft

October 18th, 2020 by admin

Fall is here. The leaves are changing and each day brings a unique blend of colors, the air is aromatic, and dry... -Ack, COUGH- And for the next couple of months we get to enjoy the sweet smell of nature as it’s getting ready for what is shaping up to be a beautiful winter.

Pumpkin next to laptop in a dark room.

Not to mention the sweet taste of candy, cider and pumpkin pies, mmm. Everyone here at Equinox is wishing you a happy Halloween and a happy fall!

This Halloween, we want all treats and no tricks. But as you’re picking out your costume and figuring out who to be on this wonderful holiday, there are millions of criminals out there deciding if they want to be YOU for Halloween.

Identity theft is a real mood killer, but don’t worry, the only killing we will have this month will be in our spooky movies and stories. To make sure we make it through this month without losing our most valuable possession, our identity, let’s look at some simple steps to avoid getting tricked this holiday season.

1. Browse Securely

These days everyone is on the web. Unless we’ve unknowingly been published on ye olde paper copy newspaper, I am pretty sure you’re on the internet right now. We are constantly having to make snap decisions about what sites to visit, what sources to trust and what steps to take, or not take regarding our security. When browsing the internet it’s always important to be alert.

Watch for unusual requests and always think twice before typing in sensitive information, like your password or credit card number. One common method to steal your information is a fake website made to look exactly like the real thing. If you believe you are on your banking website, it becomes a lot easier to convince you to type in your routing number and pin. Always check the web address to make sure it looks correct. Carefully read the URL and verify it is not misspelled or missing letters/numbers. A small difference here could get you in a lot of trouble. Once you have verified an important website, you should save it to your favorites so you don’t have to worry about checking the address every time.

Always check that the website you are on has an SSL certificate, which is a security feature that will help protect your data and is an indicator of legitimacy. This is really simple to do, in fact, let's do it now and check that Equinox has an SSL certificate. Look at the top of your webpage, and find the web address bar, where you can type in a new webpage. Now trace that bar to the left until you see a closed padlock symbol, or an open padlock symbol.

Sample website with security padlock.

The closed padlock indicates an SSL certificate and means your data is many times more secure.

2. Make sure you haven’t been breached

Being careful and keeping your browsing to web sites with an SSL certificate, will help you avoid having your data compromised in a breach. But it is not a guarantee, as companies who have your data can be hacked and your info can be stolen. So what do we do if we’ve slipped up? The simplest thing you can do is check if your data has been compromised. I like Avast Hack Checker. Simply type in the email address you want to check, and view the report they send you. For each account that has been breached, change your password to a new one you haven’t used before, on EVERY account that uses that password. This simple act prevents hackers from buying your compromised password to an insignificant account, and using that same password to get into an account that’s really important! Feel free to contact us for a check, we have several tools to check the Dark Web to see if any of your information has been stolen.

3. Avoid sharing sensitive information with strangers

The highest success rate strategy for identity theft is social engineering. Criminals pretend to be someone else, so that they can get you to share what you shouldn’t, and then they can become you. To avoid this scam, try and remove unneeded details from the public eye on social media accounts. If you are, or ever were on social media, make sure your account is set to Friends only. Consider removing details like, where you work, what your phone number is, and where you live. When you get friend requests, emails, or even phone calls, remember that the person you are meeting might not be who they say they are. Never share details with a stranger, never give the most sensitive data over the internet or even over the phone without triple-verifying who you are giving it to. The best way to verify, is to hang up, or ignore the email and find this person/entity yourself. Do some web searches, check a phonebook and call them directly. If it really is them, they will be able to find information about your issue (tax forms, order receipts, account information etc) from their own records. Any legitimate entity will be happy to wait for you to research and call them to verify the issue.

Have a happy and spooky Halloween, and make sure you’re the only one out there being you this October!

Posted in: Protection, Security, Solutions