How to Protect your Online Identity

By March 10, 2014Identity Theft

identity theft

Though the use of the internet has many benefits, it can also serve as a tool for criminals to victimize innocent individuals. If you frequently use the internet, you will have to ensure your safety at all times. Today, criminals have their own way of stealing credit card information, creating fraudulent charges, and obtaining personal information. You have the power to prevent identity theft, and you must start now!

Ways to guarantee online security:

  1. Pick quality passwords

    it is recommended that you have different passwords for each of your accounts. This includes passwords for social networking websites, credit cards, email, banking, etc. A combination of 8 or more letters and numbers that are not too obvious is highly suggested.

  2. Use a Firewall

    – this is an excellent tool for deterring hackers

  3. Be careful in opening emails

    if the sender is someone you don’t know, don’t open it and never download the attached files; this is one way of getting personal information from you. There are also times when criminals use similar or almost identical emails to make it appear as if a bank or other institutions are sending the email. Before you provide personal info, you can verify first with the concerned agency or institution.

  4. Access websites with secure connections only

    a website that offers online security should have the ‘https’ in the URL and a padlock symbol. If you see these things, it means that the site is using encryption technology and that you’re accessing a secured connection.

  5. Listen to your gut while browsing

    perhaps you’ve already experienced feeling uncomfortable when stumbling upon an unfamiliar website; well, listen to your instincts and leave website pages that are overly populated with ads and flashy banner images.


The Use of Social Networking Websites

Identity scams and phishing are very common online. In the recent years, a lot of online users of social networks have been victimized. Though such apps are cool, you should never drop your guard. Just in case you have social networking accounts, here are tips that you can use to prevent identity theft:

Tip #1 – Don’t use your full name and opt for a nickname or your first name only.

Some criminals will simply search for a name online and conduct a background check even it costs them money. They can use the information they’ve gathered to hack into your personal bank accounts or conduct transactions on your behalf.

Tip #2 – Leave the ‘location’ part blank or use a false location.

For safety reasons, you can use another city, country, or state so that criminals will not be able to get your exact address.

Tip #3 – Don’t broadcast your birth date and birth place.

Just leave this portion blank or use another date. Your family and friends will not forget to greet you on your special day even if you don’t announce it online. Your birth place must also be kept private, and there is no need to put it on your social network profile.

Tip #4 – For women, don’t use your real maiden name.

You can make up a maiden name, or just leave it blank. Security questions usually ask for maiden names, so make sure to choose a more unusual security question; one, a stranger might not be able lookup the answer to.

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The Do’s and Don’ts

Knowing the do’s and don’ts of online security is also very important. Make sure that you follow our guideline below:

  • Learn how to identify genuine emails from phishing emails. Criminals know how to target their victims, so be very careful in clicking unwanted links. If you are not expecting any email with links or attachments, delete it.
  • You must have at least two emails. One email is for personal use, and the other one can be used for other purposes (e.g. online shopping, subscriptions, etc.) Your password should also be different for each email because this is a great way to prevent identity theft.
  • Regardless of what you’re using to surf the web, you must use anti-virus software. If you receive requests and social media invites from people you don’t know, don’t hesitate to turn them down.
  • Think before you post, share, or tweet especially if it involves personal information.
  • Most devices like Blackberry, Android, and iPhone have features like ‘Find My iPhone’, ‘Blackberry Protect’, and ‘Android Lost’. These are features that allow you to erase personal data from a remote area when the gadget is stolen or lost. By setting up the feature, you can protect personal information that you’ve saved on your phone or gadget.
  • If you love shopping online, you should only shop at a reputed, established, and secure websites. Always check the browser for unbroken key or locked padlock symbol. Being cautious has its advantages. The ‘https’ should always be present, and just in case you see ‘http’ only, get out of the site immediately.
  • Though refunds are available, you should not always assume that the bank will give up your money. More and more banks are now educating their clients about fraudulent activities online. If you continue to exercise negligence, you will be at a loss.
  • Avoid clicking on pop-ups. This is a great source of malware codes.
  • If you choose to surf the web using public WIFI, never access your social network account or other accounts that have passwords. Anyone can intercept the data that you’re transferring, so try to be a responsible individual and limit the use of public WIFI.
  • Learn more about the 2-step verification. This is basically about providing your password and the code that is sent to your mobile device.

There are many solutions, tips, and tricks that you can use to prevent identity theft. All you have to do is follow the right ones, and be responsible for all your actions. You can keep your identity safe online, and with a little bit of hard work, you won’t have to worry about your identity online.

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