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One of the most important things you can do for your personal finances is to keep your personal information secure from identity theft. A virtual private network (VPN) is one tool that can help, but how does it work and how can you get one? Read here to find out.

What Is a VPN?

A VPN is a virtual private network that is meant to enable people to browse online without hackers being able to see everything they’re doing. More specifically, “a VPN establishes a secure, encrypted connection between your device and a private server, hiding your traffic from being seen by others,” according to technology website The Verge.

It’s important to choose a VPN you trust because “the VPN itself can still see your traffic,” according to The Verge. In other words, they say you might want to think twice before using a free VPN. When a VPN is free, it’s unclear how that VPN is making their money, and it could be through selling your data.

Here’s more information on how a VPN works, as explained by PCMag:

“When you switch on a VPN, your traffic is routed through an encrypted tunnel to a server operated by a VPN company. That means that your ISP and anything (or anyone) connected to your router won’t be able to see your web traffic.”

How to Get a VPN

Some people use a VPN only when they’re on public WiFi, such as what you’d use at a coffee shop or a hotel. Others, however, use a VPN all the time — even at home. Deciding when to use a VPN is entirely up to you.

That said, PCMag recommends using a VPN all the time. In their words, “For the best security, you should use a VPN as often as possible and, ideally, all the time. We recommend that users set the default on their VPN apps to be connected as much as possible.” If this isn’t your preference or a possibility, PCMag recommends using a VPN “whenever you’re using a network that’s not one you control, and especially if it’s a public WiFi network.”

As for getting a VPN, PCMag says the average cost is just over $10 per month and that some come with a discount if you sign up for a long-term contract. However, the magazine recommends making sure you’re happy with the VPN you choose before committing yourself to them for a long period of time. As for where to get one, PCMag lists several services and reviews here

Other Ways to Protect Your Personal Information

Although using a VPN can help you protect your personal information, it’s not the only way to do so. Some of the other things you can do to help protect your personal information include the following:

  • Setting up two-factor authentication on your email and other websites
  • Changing your passwords frequently or signing up for a password manager
  • Avoiding sensitive tasks while on public WiFi networks
  • Password protecting your laptop and mobile devices, and never leaving them unattended in public places
  • Regularly checking your credit report for mistakes so you can find out if someone has stolen your information and opened accounts in your name

FREE TOOL: Are mistakes on your credit report hurting your credit score? Find out here.

Taking steps like these to protect your credit might slow you down at times, but they might still be worth it if they can help keep hackers from getting your personal information.

The Link Between Your Personal Information and Your Credit

It helps to remember the link between your identity and your credit. If your personal information is exposed to hackers, they may sell that information or could potentially use it themselves to open lines of credit in your name. That can result in your credit being damaged, as well as the time and hassle of proving that those accounts are not, in fact, your own.

It’s more important than ever to protect your personal information. Remember, steps you take now to protect your information can help you prevent going down the long and difficult road of resolving identity theft.

¹The list of VPN services linked here is provided for informational purposes only. Upturn Credit does not endorse any particular service or have any relationship with the companies providing the services. You should review all product information carefully before signing up for any service.

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