. . Setting things right after identity theft often takes people hours of tedious work. If you are ever in a situation where you think your identity might have been stolen, here are some tips to help you sort through everything:
1. Change Your Passwords.
- As soon as you can, change your passwords. This includes passwords for e-mail, Facebook and other social media, subscription services of any kind – EVERYTHING.
2. Close Your Accounts.
- Don’t just change your bank and credit card account passwords. Close the accounts and open new ones. Make sure the bank and the credit card originators have their strongest protections in place for the new accounts. Inform them you are a victim of identity theft so that they provide the best protections they have to offer.
3. Use an Identity Protection Service.
- Subscribe to an identity theft service. The three services Bergen IT most highly recommends are: IDShield, IdentityForce, and Identity Guard. Though LifeLock is also a well known identity protection service, it’s less comprehensive than the others and might not cover what you need. When deciding on which identity theft protection service to use, look at the offerings of each service carefully – make sure you’re getting what will help you best with your situation. Additionally, IDShield and IdentityForce offer free trials, so you have the opportunity to test them out.
4. Scan & Clean Your Computers.
- Your computers must be scanned thoroughly to find and destroy any malware that might be compromising you in any way. Start with a program such as CCleaner, which allows you to remove junk files from your computer (for free!). After you’ve run CCleaner, Bergen IT recommends installing and running Malwarebytes, which can search for and destroy most malware lurking on your system. Finally, you should install and use a powerful antivirus product (e.g. Webroot), that will actively weed out and block potential viruses. We recommend with any antivirus product to get the business-class version; the consumer-class version will often not give you the full protection you need.
5. Protect Your Tablet and Phone.
- If you ever use your phone or tablet to access an account, we recommend getting antivirus for that as well, since smartphones and tablets can also become compromised/infected. If you use an Android tablet or phone, Malwarebytes and Webroot for Android are both available on the App Store (only download one of them per device, to avoid any conflicts!). If you use an iPhone, however, no antimalware or antivirus apps will actually do much – the iPhone prevents any app from directly accessing the operating system or other files. This means that viruses and malware that can run on the iPhone are extremely rare, and not something to actively worry about.
6. Check Your Email Security.
- If you’ve been compromised, Bergen IT can run a “dark web scan” on your email addresses. This is a test to reveal if your passwords are being sold and traded on the dark web. These scans should provide you with a detailed report on any dangerous activity found in regards to your email address. A dark web scan can also show on which sites you’ve used the same email/password combinations. Every time you use the same combination, it makes it much easier for your data to be compromised.
7. Use Unique Complex Passwords for All Accounts.
- Use unique, complex passwords for each and every online account/subscription you have. Use “passphrases” instead of passwords – make a memorable phrase of least 12 characters that includes both numbers and special characters. These passphrases will be both easier for you to remember and more difficult for anyone else to figure out. Additionally, “password management services” can help you store and manage your passwords securely and safely. Password managers like LastPass and Dashlane can generate and apply unique passwords for you and synchronize them between your computer and your cell phone – letting you only need to remember the passcodes for the manager’s account(s).
Contact Bergen IT:
Bergen IT is an award-winning, client-centered, comprehensive tech support and strategy company for businesses, professionals, and homeowners. The company services customers in the NJ and New York City metropolitan area, including northern New Jersey (Bergen, Essex, Hudson, Morris, and Passaic, NJ), Manhattan and the Bronx, Rockland and Westchester, NY and can remotely assist clients across the USA.
Bergen IT provides cybersecurity, computer, mobile device, audio, TV, and smart home services. Our focus is on providing personal attention, reasonable rates and top-notch expertise. We are six-time winners of the Angie’s List Super Service Award and a Best of Bergen Award winner and finalist. For more information, go to: www.bergenit.net.