5 Tips For Protecting Your Identity Online
Even though ID theft is on the rise, I’m constantly surprised by my clients who seem to think their protection is assured thru their internet service provider. Or perhaps they think their virus protector is also protecting them from phishing sites and malicious software such as key loggers.
Protecting your identity is YOUR responsibility. Unfortunately, everyday scam artist work on ways to break thru these so called “protection tools”. Below you will find four tips you can start using today to protect yourself from online scams. .
What Not to Do When Shopping Online
- Doing business with total strangers. Stick to well known online shopping portals like amazon.com and ebay when shopping. Not saying you can’t deal with small mom and pop shops. Just when you do, utilize review sites like Yelp.com before you send them any money. Look at Google for reviews. Look at their contact us page and call them! Yes, that’s so annoying to have to pick up the phone and talk to someone instead of shooting them an email, but you want to know who you are dealing with!
- Filling out online forms without checking first the security features of the web page or website. Do not provide you’re personal or credit details, unless you have thoroughly checked the security features of the web page you are currently viewing. Make it a habit to look for security indicators in each shopping site, before you disclose highly confidential information about you, or your lines of credit. For example, look closely at the URL bar and check if it displays the code “https”. You may also look for other security features like a padlock icon beside the URL bar, or the VeriSign logo, which is usually situated at the leftmost portion of the web page. Consider opening up an account with paypal. That way you can make payments on the paypal site and not give an unknown company your credit card information.
- Sharing passwords with other people. Never share passwords nor PIN codes with other people. Always remember that such codes help protect your debit or credit card information, and even the financial resources that are linked to them, from individuals who may wish to use them for their personal gain. So, as much as possible, keep your passwords or PIN codes to yourself. And make sure that you use strong codes that are not related to your personal information (your birthday, phone or office number, etc) nor to the personal information of your immediate family members (the birthdays of your wife or children, your wedding date, the age of your kids, etc). And don’t use the same password from site to site. You never know when a site will be hacked, heck even Target got hacked!
- Using public computers. Keep in mind that public computers are prone to computer viruses and malicious software that are used by scam artists to spy on internet shoppers as well as online credit applicants. So, if you wish to shop for an item online, then you might as well use your personal computer to transact business with a commercial establishment. This way, you can prevent unauthorized parties, as well as the computer programs they use, from spying not only on your credit activities but also on your personal and financial information.
- Using public wifi – Is always great to run across an open network that you can hop on real quick and check your email and maybe spend some time on Facebook. But a lot of these open networks can be traps. The owners of the network can have spy software running, so they can see everything you type while using their network. Make sure you don’t do your banking or bill paying while on an unknown network.