This post is sponsored by NortonLifeLock. All opinions are my own.

If you’ve ever been the victim of identity theft, you know how frustrating and tedious it can be to untangle. If you haven’t been a victim of identity theft, consider yourself lucky. According to the Identity Theft Resource Center,  2019 saw 164+ million sensitive records exposed and according to new research from NortonLifeLock, 12 million Americans reported being a victim of identity theft in 2019 and it’s not just peace of mind that is spared, it’s your money. An estimated $29 billion was lost last year alone due to cyber crimes.

Before we talk about what you can do to help protect yourself, let’s talk about the numbers. NortonLifeLock conducted its annual Cyber Safety Insights Report surveying more than 10,000 consumers in 10 countries examining consumers’ views and experiences regarding privacy, security and identity theft.

So what exactly is a cyber crime?

Common types of online crimes include:

Malicious Software- Software that was designed to intentionally cause harm to a computer, server, Wi-Fi network, smartphone, tablet, smart home, or some other connected device.

Data Breaches – When hackers access important information such as banking information or social security numbers from a trusted environment like a company or the government. They often use this information to commit identity theft. 

Compromised Email Accounts– The malicious hacking into consumers accounts using their credentials, accessing their private data.

It’s clear that people need protection against cyber crimes and threats of the like, but who should be responsible for providing protection? According to the NortonLifeLock Cyber Safety Insights Report, consumers are unsure, 36% of Americans believe companies are, 34% believe that individuals are responsible for protecting their information and 29% believe the government is responsible.

So, what can you do as an individual to help protect yourself against cyber crime?

While hackers and criminals are continuously evolving these general tips could be helpful in making your data less vulnerable. 

Tip 1. Use strong passwords. As tempting as it may be to use the same password across all of your accounts, this isn’t a good idea. Also consider making passwords difficult using a combination of 10 or more letters, numbers and symbols. 

Tip 2. Keep your software updated. Updates are issued for reasons, often because developers realize there is an issue within the software that makes it vulnerable. By utilizing the most updated versions available to you for your devices, you can help ensure that you have the latest protections against hackers.

Tip 3. Use a full service internet security suite. All security services aren’t created equal. Good software works hard to protect your data in ways you might not know you need. 

Tip 4. Teach your kids about internet safety. I recall downloading things to our family computer when I was a teen. I wasn’t the most versed in internet safety and definitely downloaded a number of viruses and malware onto our family computer. Had my parents installed a security suite on the computer and discussed the possible issues that could come along with downloading suspicious content, it probably would’ve saved them hundreds in repair costs. 

Tip 5. Use a secure network for online purchases & review credit card and bank statements regularly. Software isn’t perfect and you’ll need to do your part. If you’re making online purchases make sure it’s from a legitimate site that has an SSL certificate. It’s also just a good habit in general to review your banking statements. I’ve saved myself hundreds of dollars in fraudulent charges by reviewing my account activity.

When it comes to protecting your information, it’s a team effort. Remain diligent and vigilant.

Family

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Created by nationally recognized millennial money expert Tonya Rapley, My Fab Finance is a leading financial education and lifestyle blog for millennials who want to become financially free and do more of what they love.