2024 Identity Theft Awareness Week

As part of Identity Theft Awareness Week, the Idaho Office of Emergency Management (IOEM) is reminding Idahoans of the lurking threats present in today’s digital age and how important it is to take proactive steps in protecting our personal information.

Identity theft happens when cybercriminals acquire sensitive Personally Identifiable Information (PII), such as credit card or social security details, which they either use for personal gain or sell to others.

According to the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) Sentinel Network’s latest report, more than 9,000 Idahoans filed fraud reports in 2022 — with Idaho consumers reporting a loss of nearly $30 million. FTC shared identity theft was one of the top categories of fraud reports they received from Idaho residents.

“Identity theft doesn’t discriminate by age,” said IOEM Cyber and Infrastructure Security Program Manager, Chris Volmer. “Because identity theft can wreak havoc on finances, it’s crucial all Idahoans take proactive measures to protect themselves and their families.”

To help prevent identity theft and cybercriminals from stealing your most valuable personal information, IOEM shares cybersecurity tips to keep in mind – not just this week, but year-round.

  • Keep Devices and Applications Updated: The first line of defense against cyber threats is ensuring that your devices and applications are up to date. Enable automatic updates whenever possible to patch security vulnerabilities and strengthen your digital fortress.
  • Utilize Strong Passwords: Gone are the days of simplistic passwords. Embrace the power of long, unique, and complex passwords for each of your accounts. Consider crafting passphrases using a combination of multiple short words that are easy to remember but challenging to crack. Steer clear of common phrases or easily guessable information.
  • Implement Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA): Enhance your account security by enabling MFA wherever feasible. By requiring an additional factor beyond just a password, such as a code from a mobile app, MFA significantly bolsters the protection of your sensitive information from unauthorized access.
  • Be Cautious with Emails, Texts, and Voicemails: Be vigilant when interacting with electronic communications, particularly those from unknown senders. Refrain from opening suspicious attachments or clicking on dubious links. If in doubt, independently verify the sender’s legitimacy by cross-checking with the company’s official website or contacting them directly.
  • Minimize Data Exposure: Review privacy policies before consenting to share your data with third parties. Avoid disclosing sensitive details, such as birthdates or addresses, on social media platforms, as they can serve as gateways for identity theft.
  • Secure Your Internet Connection: Consider connecting to the internet using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to encrypt your data and obscure your online presence. This added layer of security is especially crucial when connecting to public Wi-Fi networks.
  • Exercise Caution in Public Spaces: Remain vigilant when accessing sensitive information in public settings. Avoid conducting financial transactions or accessing confidential data over unsecured Wi-Fi networks.

By adopting proactive measures and staying informed, Idahoans can reduce online risks and safeguard our identities. As we observe Identity Theft Awareness Week, let’s pledge to prioritize cybersecurity and empower ourselves against potential online threats. Stay vigilant, stay secure.

For more information about Identity Theft Awareness Week or to report a fraud, please visit consumer.ftc.gov/idtheftweek.