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How a VPN can help prevent identity theft

If you work from home, you may already use a virtual private network, also known as a VPN, to log in to your company server. Many companies require the use of a VPN to increase information security. However, anyone can use a VPN to increase security on their own personal devices. VPNs encrypt your devices’ information to provide safety and privacy. Investing in your own VPN can be a cost-effective way to ward off potential fraud and identity theft. Here are some things to know about VPNs, including how to set one up.

What is a VPN?

Basically, a VPN protects your private information from others while you’re connected to the internet. Your devices — including desktop computers, phones, tablets, and laptops — share information to access the internet. Your devices are assigned an IP address that indicates your general location (think area code). Websites, advertisers and other entities can also track your browsing activity. Bad actors use IP addresses and online activity to access internet users’ identities and private information to commit fraud and identity theft.

When set up, a VPN encrypts your IP address and other identifying information before you access the internet. That means others are unable to see what websites you’re visiting. Your identity is also shielded from the websites you visit. Instead of seeing your computer’s unique IP address, they’ll only see the IP address of the VPN server you’re using.

A VPN is key when using public Wi-Fi

When you’re traveling or passing time in a coffee shop, you might connect to a public Wi-Fi network. These can be handy when you need internet access, but they can also put you at risk. Public Wi-Fi networks are often unsecure, which means they make it easier for fraudsters to hack the network and access your information. They can also be fake networks set up with the sole purpose of stealing people’s information.

If you use a VPN while connecting to a public Wi-Fi network instead, your information is encrypted. This means your VPN would effectively hide your information from hackers and make fraud attempts ineffective.

How to set up a VPN

Good news: You don’t have to be an IT technician to install your own VPN service. Use the term “VPN client” to search online for a VPN. Identify a VPN service that is reputable and endorsed by a source you trust. Avoid free VPN services, which are likely harvesting customers’ data. A trustworthy, effective VPN is worth paying for, and it doesn’t have to be expensive.

Once you’ve purchased a VPN, follow the company’s instructions for installing the VPN app to your devices. Download your new VPN on all your devices, from your desktop computer to your phone. Configure your VPN to start automatically on your devices. Then, anytime you’re using the internet, look for the icon that indicates your VPN is running.

Protect against identity theft with a VPN

Protecting against identity theft can be overwhelming, but fortunately there are steps you can take to increase security and peace of mind. Read about more ways to help prevent identity theft here. You might also check out Commerce ID Monitor, our identity theft service that provides proactive monitoring of accounts and also offers a VPN. Commerce ID Monitor also offers recovery support in the case of an identity theft.

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