Protecting your information online is an important topic. The Federal Trade Commission estimates that as much as 5% of the US population will experience identity theft at some point in time.
While sometimes it is unavoidable, there are still things you can do to protect yourself and deter an identity thief or hacker.
Be wary of emails asking for information.
It is very easy for a hacker to create an email that looks like it is from a legitimate company. It might even have a logo from Ebay, Paypal, or some other company you use and trust. But if it asks for any personal information, like verifying your account, be wary and make a phone call. Ask the company directly what they need. Most of the time, you’ll find out it was a scam.
Only shop on secure websites.
When you enter your credit card online, the information is processed through the web page and sent to the company. A secure website takes extra precautions to encrypt this information and protect it. You can tell if a site is secure by looking at the website URL. (Make sure you’re on the checkout page. It might not be secure throughout the rest of the website.) At the top, the first letters should be https:// rather than just http://. The “s” indicates that the site is secure and safe.
Create secure passwords.
It’s hard to remember all of those passwords, but they are necessary! Create passwords for your email, online banking, and other accounts with a mix of capital and lowercase letters and at least one number. Don’t use the same password for every account and change them frequently.
Store your personal information securely.
Many of us are guilty of keeping our social security card in our wallet or purse. While it is convenient, it’s also dangerous! If you were to lose your wallet or have your purse stolen, you increase the potential for identity theft. Keep your social security cards at home in a secure place and memorize the number instead.
Keep your computer security up to date.
Your computer is always at risk for viruses, malware, and other problems. The best way to prevent this is by installing virus protection software on your computer and keeping it updated every week! This little bit of prevention could save you thousands.
By following these 5 tips, you’ll increase your protection online and reduce the chance of being a victim of identity theft.