In the technological world we live in today, the dangers of identity theft are all too real. As it becomes easier to purchase items and services online, as well as check bank accounts, conduct business, and pay taxes, it also becomes easier for hackers to steal your identity and use it for their own benefit. However, there are steps you can take to protect yourself from identity theft. Here are eight ways to help keep your personal information and identity safe while surfing or shopping online:
1. Maintain privacy on social media:
Although you have the option to show your email and phone number on accounts such as Facebook and Twitter, don’t – you don’t know who will be able to find that information and use it to eventually gain access to your other accounts online. Furthermore, check your social media privacy settings and make sure that your information is visible to “friends only”.
2. Strengthen online passwords:
Make sure to use a different password for each site you create an account for. You should also make your passwords complex or difficult to guess, using numbers, symbols and letters together.
3. Use a secure network:
Check that your Wi-Fi network is password protected, so that any hackers in your area can’t connect and use your internet connection to gain access to your computer.
4. Look out for scams:
One of the most common types of online scams is “phishing,” in which a cybercriminal sends an email that looks authentic but is actually a trap. You may think the email is from your bank or your insurance company, but once you click on the link, it sends you to a landing page that may require you to enter your username and password. The person that sent the email will then know your information and use it for malicious purposes.
5. Make sure you’re on a secure website:
When a web address has “https” before the URL, you know it’s a secure connection and can feel free to enter payment information. However, if it’s just “http,” be aware that the site may not be secured and thus you don’t know that your information will be protected.
6. Use security software:
Have antivirus, anti-phishing, and anti-malware installed on your computer and your phone for added security.
7. Keep track of your bank statements:
Make sure that you spot any suspicious activity immediately so you can report a case of identity theft as it’s happening. Also, keep an eye on your credit score.
8. Always use a firewall:
If your computer doesn’t come with one installed, you can find free and professional versions online, both of which deter hackers.
With these eight tips, you can significantly decrease your chances of having your identity stolen online. However, even with the proper precautions, identity theft can occur to just about anyone. Have you or someone you know fallen victim to identity theft and wish to share your experiences and provide further tips on how it could have been prevented? We would love to hear from you! Please feel free to share your thoughts in the comment box below so that we can collectively abolish as much of this threat as possible.