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How to avoid online identity theft

Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-03-22 02:51:31-04

LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — The things you do online could be asking for trouble. Identity theft is no joke. 13 Action News exposes some of the mistakes you might be making that leave you vulnerable to crooks.

"Nothing's really safe," says Natalie.

It's a pretty unnerving thought. Many experts believe it's only a matter of time until your personal information is compromised.

"I think it can happen anytime," says Jason.

That's why Natalie and Jason take precautions with shopping or paying bills online.

"We're on credit monitoring services, which I think helps sometimes," says Jason.

But Jason is realistic and says he's still afraid of being hacked.

"You can change your password once a month. It can still happen," says Jason.

A new poll from CreditCards.com finds: 92 percent of U.S. adults took at least one big data security risk in the past year. For example: more than1 in 3 people are using their browser to store credit card information, putting their accounts at risk if their device is lost, stolen or hacked.

"Every time I go shopping online and check out and it says would you like to save your credit card for future use? I always say no. I don't want my credit card data anywhere but in my wallet," says I.T. Security Expert Curt Miller with Anexeon.

He says it's important to take every precaution possible to protect yourself from cyber criminals.

"People have to take it seriously because so much of our life is on the internet now," says Curt.

Too many people are also taking chances with public Wi-Fi. 48 percent of U.S. adults used a public network in the past year. It's okay if you're reading an article or checking your social media. But Curt says don't do any online banking while using public Wi-Fi.

"This is like literally leaving the front door of your house wide open when you're gone," says Curt.

The most common mistake people are making is reusing the same password. More than 8 in 10 people online, that's a whopping 82 percent of Americans, are using the same password for multiple accounts.

"If anyone of those sites gets hacked, they now have access to all your other sites," says Curt.

Instead of using a simple or memorable password, Curt says you should rely on a password manager. They typically install as a browser plug-in. Then when you visit a website or use an app, it offers to save your username and password.

"If I hit sign in, notice it automatically populated," says Curt.

Best of all...

"They can assist you with changing the password. Actually, it can generate complex passwords that are random," says Curt.

And that's key to protecting yourself in a world where millions have already been victimized by hackers.

"Identity theft is horrendous and it's happening all of the time... It may be happening to you already and you don't even know it," says Curt.

It can take years to fully recover from identity theft. So start taking steps to protect yourself today.

Click here to check out a free resource, where you just enter your email to find if you're information is at risk of being compromised due to a data breach.