Identity Theft Resource Center’s thoughts going into National Consumer Protection Week.

National Consumer Protection Week is coming up in the next few days (March 4-10, 2019) and it’s a great time to take stock of your personally identifiable information (PII), your data privacy and your technology. The goal is to empower the public with information that will help keep them safe, while also fighting the very real fatigue that can come about from too much news about this sort of crime.

Everywhere you look, it seems like there’s news of another virus, another hacking event, another data breach. It can feel like fighting back to protect your information is, well, kind of pointless. Fortunately, that’s not the case… not by a long shot.

Experian and the Identity Theft Resource Center conducted a survey asking consumers to assess their attitudes and habits towards protecting their information. The results were a little surprising, in a good way:

– 73% of respondents worry that their PII will be compromised when they log into an online account

– 79% of Millennials know that connecting to the internet over public Wi-Fi—such as in a hotel or coffee shop—could leave them at risk

– Nearly half of all respondents—an encouraging 45%—spend at least an hour a week on security behaviors like checking their account statements, changing their passwords, checking up on their privacy settings, and more.

Download the infographic here

No one wants to have to live in fear that their data or their identities will be stolen. In fact, survey respondents expressed some measure of dissatisfaction with how hard they have to work to protect themselves in this digital era. Weren’t the internet and technology supposed to make our lives easier, instead of leaving us exposed to crime?

Like so many other safety precautions through the years, learning to be cyber-safe is mostly a matter of developing some good habits. Think back to what it must have been like to drive one of the first cars that came equipped with seatbelts, or to work in a factory that installed safety railings and protective guards on its machinery. The few extra steps involved in protecting yourself might have seemed annoying or pointless at first, but over time they developed into a lifelong habit that keeps the public safe.

The same is true of cybersecurity. Having to enter a code that was sent to your phone thanks to two-factor authentication takes only a few extra seconds and it can spare you countless hours of trying to recover your stolen money and clearing your name from identity theft-related crimes. Memorizing a new password every few months might slow down your internet activities and placing a unique password on every account might seem tedious, but the payoff is worth it to keep prying eyes out of your email, social media, or online banking accounts.

Protecting your home from intruders means checking the doors and windows. Protecting your physical safety in a motor vehicle means wearing your seatbelt and making sure your car is in good working order with up-to-date maintenance checks. Protecting your identity and privacy means practicing good technology habits and staying on top of the latest threats.

For more information on how other steps you can take to ensure your practicing good identity hygiene, download our free Identity Theft Help App.

Contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. For on-the-go assistance, check out the free ID Theft Help App from ITRC.