5 Ways to Get Identity Theft Protection – Because You Need It

Yahoo Life, part of the Verizon Media family of brands, is committed to finding you the best products at the best prices. Some of the products discussed here are offered in conjunction with Verizon Media. We may receive a share of purchases made through links on this page. Prices and availability are subject to change.

Identity theft is more common than you might think. (Photo: Getty)

Identity theft protection is one of those things you don’t think you really need – until someone actually steals your identity. And then you really wish you had taken the steps to protect yourself.

Unfortunately, identity theft is more common than you might think. Nearly 13 million people in the US were victims of identity theft in 2019, according to a 2020 identity fraud investigation from research-based consultancy Javelin – and it’s a problem that seems to be increasing.

Not sure why you should care so much about identity theft? When scammers get their hands on your personal information, they can gain access to a large number of your accounts and wreak havoc on your financial health and safety. The Federal Trade Commission lists potential problems that identity thieves can cause, such as liquidating your bank account, making fraudulent charges on your credit cards, opening new utility bills, and getting medical treatment under your health insurance policy.

Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days.

It can be scary to think of someone trying to steal your identity and what they might do with your private information, but there are ways to protect yourself. Here’s what cybersecurity experts recommend.

Identity Theft Protection Tip #1: Keep Your Personal Information Private

This is crucial, computer security expert Graham Cluley, co-host of the Crushing Security podcast, Yahoo Life tells. “Be careful who you share your personal information with,” he warns. For example, if you use your dog’s name as the password for every online account you have, it’s probably best not to repeatedly post Fido’s name on your public Instagram and Facebook accounts.

Identity Theft Protection Tip #2: Get Stronger Passwords

Cluley specifically recommends that you secure your online accounts with “strong, hard-to-crack, unique passwords.” At a basic level, you want your passwords to combine three or more unrelated words and proper names, with numbers separating them, Joseph Steinberg, consultant on cybersecurity and emerging technologies, tells Yahoo Life. You can add special characters between them if a particular site requires them.

Such passwords can be tricky to remember and keep track of, which is why Cluley recommends using a password manager. Worth noting: password managers can also help generate new passwords. “You should have a different password for each service — never reuse passwords,” Cluley says.

One solution: LastPass Premium Password Generator, which creates long, random, and secure passwords to help protect you from online security threats. Plus, the software does this for each account you use — by creating separate passwords.

Secure your online accounts with

Secure your online accounts with “strong, hard-to-crack, unique passwords,” experts recommend. (Photo: Getty)

Identity Theft Protection Tip #3: Use Multi-Factor Authentication

In case you’re not familiar with it, multi-factor authentication is an online authentication method where you can only access an account after you provide at least two forms of proof that you are who you claim to be. That might mean answering a security question after entering your password, or clicking an image you’ve designated “yours” on a particular account after entering your password. Whenever possible, Cluley recommends using this feature on your accounts.

Identity theft protection tip #4: Leave some personal identification at home

It is not necessary to bring any form of personal identification with you except your driver’s license and, if necessary, your passport. “Don’t take your Social Security card with you,” Steinberg says. Why? If someone gets their hands on it, they can easily access your Social Security Number, an important authentication tool many companies use to give someone access to your private information.

Identity Theft Protection Tip #5: Use Alerts

Many banks and accounts allow you to set alerts when someone has access to your information. “Use alerts on your bank accounts, credit cards, and credit report,” suggests Steinberg. This way you quickly know if someone is trying to get to your data or has already breached your security.

Try LastPass Premium, part of Yahoo Plus Secure, risk-free for 30 days.

Read more from Yahoo Life: