4 Tips for Protecting Your Identity Online During Internet Safety Month

It’s the internet safety month again. Did I just catch you roll your eyes? Most people will just shrug it off as another unimportant event, but they are ignorant of the baffling statistics associated with internet fraud and identity theft.  According to the FTC, almost 9 million Americans are victimized by identity theft every year. Therefore, it does pay to protect your identity online when using the internet.click this link for more details.

1. Reveal little details online

Most of us probably don’t realize that the details we release on such platforms as Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin are sufficient for fraudulent individuals to take possession of your “identity”. Armed with just your full name, phone number, email address and home address, they could gain access to your bank account and empty it in the time it takes you to say bank. Heck, according to Symantec, you could even purchase someone’s “identity” – their full name, address, birthdate and bank account number- for little over $15, they even throw in a credit card for good measure. It just goes to show how prevalent identity theft is, and with a tiny mistake, you risk losing all of your possessions.

2. Use a strong password

This is a tip that is almost too obvious to be on this list, but never ever ever use easily-guessable passwords like your name or email address. But as summed up by this comic (http://xkcd.com/936/), the passwords that we commonly use are hard to memorize yet decipherable by a computer. So, instead of using random words and punctuations, why not try using a sentence that makes sense. Chances are that your password will be much stronger this way. To further fortify your online identity, never answer security questions directly. The answers for those questions are all too easily found online. Use code answers that only you could guess.  That way, even if someone does figure out your password, they couldn’t gain access to your accounts even if they tried.

3. Do not click on links in emails

This is one of the most common techniques used by fraudsters to glean much coveted personal information. They send you emails that seems to be from reputable companies or websites, requesting that you confirm certain details – your name, phone number etc. Although it may be a little tedious, always manually type in web addresses when you need to provide confidential information. This does not only apply to professional emails, even personal emails that appears to be from trusted contacts may be doctored by unscrupulous individuals. There was a recent case where an Auckland doctor was cheated of $300,000 when fraudsters hacked into his father’s email account. It just proves that you can never be too cautious.