In this day and age, almost everyone is using the internet to shop, pay bills and keep up with friends. The internet can be a powerful tool to help simplify your life. However, your life can turn into a complicated nightmare if you aren’t careful to protect your identity online. We’ve put together a few tips to help you stay safe while you’re surfing.
- Don’t Volunteer Information – When you’re filling out a form online, only give out the information that is required. The less information that you put online, the less that someone can steal from you. And if the form you are filling out isn’t important, sometimes it’s okay to give a less than truthful answer to the form questions.
- Look For the Lock – Whenever you are giving out personal information on the web, make sure that the page you are on is secure. Look for the lock symbol in your browser’s status bar or “https” in the web address. This ensures that the form you are filling out is sending your online data in a secure manner. Remember, all web addresses generally start out with “http” but a secure page will start out as “https”.
- Don’t Feed the Phish – If you receive an email from your bank or financial institution, do not click on the links in the email. Go directly to their website to login. Even if the address that the email came from looks legitimate, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Most occurrences of identity theft happen because the victim gave out their own information by accident.
- Shop Safely – Check with your credit card company or financial institution to see what types of online shopping products they may have available. Some credit card companies offer “one-shot” credit card numbers. These are numbers that your company may issue you to do online shopping – they’re used once only. You can shop safely without the worry that someone may steal your card number.
- Educate Your Kids – You can take every precaution for safe online activity but if you don’t teach your kids about online safety, they can inadvertently give out important information. Make sure that they understand not to send identifying information about their family or themselves online. Even if they are sending the information to a trusted person, their transmissions could be intercepted.
- Look Over Your Shoulder – When using your computer in a public area, make sure that you are aware of your surroundings. People can look over your shoulder and watch you enter passwords or PIN numbers that would allow them access to your private information.
- Use a Smart Password – We mentioned earlier that a lot of online identity theft occurs because people accidentally give out their information. This can be true of passwords too. Most “hacking” is actually just lucky guessing so, when you are picking passwords for your online accounts, be smart about it. Don’t use a password that is easily guessed (like a pet or child’s name.) Use as many characters as you can and, if allowed, add in numbers or special characters to make your password hard to guess.
Keeping your identity safe online can seem very daunting. However, by following a few easy guidelines and adding in a good dose of common sense, the internet can be a fun and enjoyable place for your entire family.