Identity theft has become a major concern in recent times. Identity theft is when someone, takes a piece of your personal information (with or without your knowledge) and uses it to commit fraud. This got us into thinking of all the different ways we can use to protect ourselves from identity theft. In one of our recent posts we wrote about 12 steps to protect yourself online but as a reminder, we compiled another list of ways we feel we can all protect ourselves online. This list is by no means exhaustive because as the saying goes, if you build a 10ft fence you can be sure that thieves are ready to build a 12ft ladder to scale your fence!
So here goes.
- Be extra cautious when using wireless connections, hotspots and bluetooth.
- Rather than click a link in an email, its best to copy and paste the link directly into your browser instead.
- If the company website you’re visiting seems as if it hasn’t been updated in months, be wary of dealing with them or disclosing personal information to them via their website.
- Use very hard passwords and keep them in a safe place, away from your computer and phone. Passwords like “password” “love”, etc should be avoided. A good password should be a combination of alphanumeric characters in both lower and uppercase. If possible, change your passwords regularly!
- Make sure you only deal with credible companies that have come highly recommended by others. There’s nothing as good as word of mouth recommendation from clients concerning the businesses they deal with.
- Keep your debit, credit cards, cheque books and passports, in a secure place at all times and scrutinize your statements carefully for any discrepancies.
- Make sure the computer you are using has an antivirus or internet security software that is regularly updated with the latest security patches. We recommend Norton or AVG.
- If your website contains sensitive information that you want to restrict access to via a secure login page (the web page must start with https:// ), its paramount that you get an SSL certificate from a good SSL certificate provider like Verisign, Geotrust etc and you renew it regularly.
- Even if a web page starts with “https” and your browser shows a padlock icon, its best you click the padlock icon to see the security certificate for the website. The name of the site must match the name of the person/company to which it was issued.
- Be wary of downloading ‘free stuff’ from the internet, especially if you are not sure of the source.
- As much as possible, try to use your own computer. Fortunately it is quite easy to get a decent system at a good price. If you must use another computer, don’t forget to delete all your ‘temporary internet files’ or and clear the ‘history’ sections of the system. And remember to log off completely from a public system.
- If you are asked for information that you don’t feel comfortable providing, ask the person what they need the information for, what their privacy policies are etc. At the end of the day, go with your gut feelings… if you’re not comfortable providing any information, dont.
Do you have any particular safety tips you would love to share? We would love to hear from you. Please feel free to comment.