Many California residents are concerned about the possibility of identity theft, especially because the consequences of such a crime may last for years. The risk of identity theft may continue to rise as more people conduct business online and use the internet to access bank accounts, medical records and private information. In many cases, it is not possible for individuals to avoid putting their personal information on the internet. However, taking a few cautionary steps may reduce one's risk of becoming a victim of identity theft.
One of the most well-known causes of identity theft comes from a data breach, such as the one that occurred at Equifax in 2017. According to USA Today, the Equifax data breach affected the personal data of 143 million Americans. Since the hackers exploited a vulnerability in the credit-monitoring company's security, there are not many ways victims could have protected their personal information. However, there are some important steps an individual may take following a security breach such as this one: reviewing credit reports, placing a credit freeze and requesting replacement credit cards.
There are also several things people may do to help reduce the risk of online identity theft that happens apart from a data breach. There are numerous suggestions available from USA.gov that cover internet-related behavior. Individuals may help protect their personal data by activating security features on mobile phones and web browsers. It is also important to ensure proper firewall settings when using a public Wi-Fi network and install reliable anti-virus software on personal computers. Creating strong passwords that are hard to guess may also keep online data secure. Consistently reviewing bank statements, monitoring credit reports and reacting quickly to data breaches may reduce the chances of online identity theft.