Identity Theft Prevention for Freelancers: How to Keep Your Financial and Personal Information Secure

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Identity Theft Prevention for Freelancers: How to Keep Your Financial and Personal Information Secure

Nov 15, 2023

As a freelancer, you are probably focused on getting enough day-to-day work to pay bills and make ends meet. However, in doing so, are you putting your personal information at risk?

Many of the things freelancers do, such as working in coffee shops and using public Wi-Fi, can compromise your financial and personal data. It’s easy for hackers to steal sensitive information in public places, especially if you’re not aware of the risk.

By educating yourself about the risks, you can take steps to protect yourself from identity theft and keep your personal and financial information private. Here’s what you need to know!

The Risk of Identity Theft

You might think that you’re not important enough to have your data stolen, but the truth is that criminals prefer stealing personal information from low-profile people. It’s easier to make fake accounts, and it takes longer for someone to notice. 

Worst of all, having your identity stolen can cost you more as a freelancer than it would if you weren’t doing this kind of work. That’s because the contracts you sign certify that you’ll keep certain information confidential, and if someone hacks into your data, that client information can be compromised. 

It can also damage your reputation, and because so many contractors are available, your clients might let you go after a data breach, leaving you without a way to earn your living. Cyberattacks disrupt your ability to work, as it takes a lot of time to recover your identity. 

As a freelancer, it’s up to you to implement proper cybersecurity software and practices and avoid phishing scams and other attacks. No one will do it for you, which is why knowing these best practices is essential.

How to Keep Your Data Safe

What can you do to protect yourself from identity theft? There are several steps that will help keep your personal and financial information private. 

Be Aware of Common Scams

While having the right technology is important, often the weakest link is the human using it. Scammers come up with a variety of ways to fool you into entering login information, sharing your bank information, and otherwise allowing access to your system. 

That means one of the best ways to prevent identity theft is to learn about phishing, pharming, vishing, and smishing.

  • Phishing is when you receive an unsolicited but official-looking email asking you to click a link or give information.

  • Pharming is when malicious code redirects you to an authoritative-looking website and you’re asked to enter login credentials.

  • Vishing is when you receive a phone call from someone who asks for personal information.

  • Smishing is when a suspicious text message asks you to click a link or reply with confidential information.

The common denominator in all of these is never to trust the information given in an unsolicited email, phone call, text message, or redirected website. Instead, reach out directly to the bank or company using their public information to see if there’s actually a problem.

Use Secure Internet Connections

If you’re at a coffee shop, library, or other location and using public Wi-Fi, your personal information is at risk. Anyone can connect to the Wi-Fi and access or compromise information on other devices on the network. 

However, choose your VPN provider carefully. If you use a free service or one without a good reputation, they can sell your information, so you can be compromised anyway. Also, enable multi-factor authentication on your logins to help protect them.

Protect Your Hardware

Cybersecurity often focuses on software because most hacks happen through the internet. However, there’s valuable information on your hardware as well. If you replace your laptop, for example, you need to find a secure hard drive destruction service to get rid of the confidential data on your computer before you donate or recycle the device. 

When hard drives aren’t shredded properly, data can be restored and accessed even if you’ve tried to wipe the drive. Be safe and destroy the drive entirely using a high-quality, professional company. 

Stay Safe on Social Media

While social media is likely one of your primary marketing channels, it’s easy to compromise your personal information without meaning to. 

Practice social media safety by following these tips:

  • Avoid sharing personal information that can be used to determine answers to security questions on your accounts

  • Don’t announce when you’re traveling

  • Be careful about posting photos, which can provide more information on your location than you think

  • Be cautious when you’re contacted by someone new — vet them carefully and never share personal or financial information

Avoid Scams in the Mail

While these might be less common, it’s still important to avoid snail mail scams. For example, don’t pay bills without verifying that you bought the product or service.

Also, don’t fall for notices that claim to be legal notices, bank documents, or government information without directly contacting the agency using their public information, not the phone number or website in the letter. 

Keep Yourself Safe as a Freelancer

Freelancers have a lot to think about — not only are you the chief producer of the service, you’re also the head of every other department, including IT and cybersecurity.

Fortunately, the steps above will help you keep your personal information safer from thieves. The right technology and a bit of information about how scams operate can keep your business operating smoothly and as safe as possible from a cyberattack.


Meet The Author:


Luke Smith

Luke Smith is a writer and researcher turned blogger.


The opinions expressed in our published works are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the National Association for the Self-Employed or its members.

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