How many horror stories have you heard about ordinary people falling victim to identity theft? How many people do you know experienced losing hard earned money to unscrupulous individuals who lurk on the Internet and hack into people’s personal accounts? Don’t be their next victim! Here are five tips to protect your identity and your accounts online.
Create passwords strategically
You can create a generic and easy to remember a password for sites where all you do is reply and comment. However, you need to assign long and difficult passwords to shop and online banking sites, or any site that requires your credit card number and other important financial and personal information.
Create unique passwords and change them every three or four months. Don’t store your passwords on your web browsers, or worse, on your smartphones.
Make sure that your security questions are secure
Make sure that the answers are not easily found on your blogs, on your Facebook page, and on other social media accounts, too.
Don’t use a public Wi-Fi connection when you plan to do an online financial transaction. Make sure that the site is a protected site. Look for the lock icon on the address bar, or check that the website starts with “http:” to avoid being a victim of phishing.
Remember that any other information required from you apart from the regular ones that you key in upon logging in can be a phishing scam.
Clear your cache
After making an online transaction, sign out of the website completely and clear the website cache and cookies. Make sure that your computer’s security features and anti-virus software are regularly updated, too.
Shred and dispose of sensitive information properly
Shred documents with sensitive information, like old credit cards and bank statements, as well as offers to apply for new credit cards or letters to upgrade memberships or subscriptions. Delete old emails that contain important personal and financial information. Before deleting, you can print them for record purposes and then keep them locked safely away at home.
Think before you click
Don’t open suspicious-looking emails. Tick them and put them straight to the trash. Empty the trash.
When you’re logged in to Facebook, don’t click on posts that look too good or too shocking to be true. They’re usually spam messages that contain a virus that can access your information or compromise your account. Facebook has very good security and privacy settings, but sometimes, people can still find a way to breach the system. Beware and don’t get duped into clicking that link.
Also, disable the geo-tracking system on your gadgets. The rest of the world don’t need to know that you are in Starbucks at the moment getting your coffee fix before heading to your hair appointment a couple of blocks down. If someone is out there to ruin your life or steal your identity, you are making it so easy for them.
Keep the privacy settings in all of your social media accounts set to private. If you don’t know this person sending you a friend request, don’t accept the invitation. Keep personal photos of yourself and the kids set to private or viewable to family and close friends only.