With so many social media networks and various internet services people use on everyday basis, cyber-criminal is blooming. Even people who strongly believe they are cautious can be victims of identity theft. Once you share information such as location, family connections, date of birth, all of it can be used to hack into a number of personal accounts, and yes, that includes your bank account. Cyber criminal is very real, and everyone who uses the internet should know how to protect themselves. If we are talking personal, I always recommend people to use Lastpass to help protect their info. If you are a small business, I recommend accounts payable outsourcing to help protect you from check fraud.
Here are 7 ways to protect yourself and prevent your identity from getting stolen.
- Don’t share too much on social media. Details such as your phone number, your address, your children’s school or age can all provide hackers with valuable information. Unfriend anyone you don’t actually know and make sure your “About me” section doesn’t go into details about your life or whereabouts. Be very selective with the things you post and share (even with your online friends).
Back in 2015, a woman named Chantelle from Australia won a large amount of money on horse races. She took a selfie holding the ticket and posted it to social media. Someone from her friend list printed out the bar code from the ticket and cashed in her price at an automated cash dispenser. She lost it all. Think about that.
- Guard your email account with your life. Most, if not all,online services rely on having your email address. This is a standard method of user verification. If you forget your password to any service, it will send a link to your email account, and through this link you are able to regain access. Email is used for everything, from cloud storages to bank accounts. In short, your email is your most valuable online account. Lose it, and you lose your online identity. Use a strong, unique password, change it regularly, and use two-factor authenticationwherever possible.
- Avoid using public Wi-Fi. Public Wi-Fi and hotspots are free and convenient if you need to check something online or get some work done while cutting your data charges. They are also super convenient for criminals and hackers because such insecure connections have a bunch of flaws and are very vulnerable. If you really need to go online in public, use your mobile phone internet connection instead of a public Wi-Fi.
- Be smart with your passwords. Most people use passwords that are easy to remember, usually numbers like 12345, or our birth dates, the birth dates/names of our children, or our home towns. The thing is, if a password is hard to forget, it’s easy to crack – and that’s a rule. Think of strong passwords. Use upper case letters, numbers and symbols. Make it as diverse as possible.
Many people use the same password for every online service they use. This is wrong on so many levels. If someone cracks that one password, they’ll have access to all of your data on all of the services you use. Use multiple passwords. Each service should have its own.
- Keep your devices updated.Updating your tech may be a boring task, but having the newest version of your phone or computer’s operating system secures you with the most recent and most efficient protection possible. Same thing goes for apps, browsers, or any kind of software you use while online.
- Learn to spot and avoid spam and scam. While some phishing scam or spam attacks might be obvious, some of them are actually pretty well-hidden. The one and only way to never fall for phishing scam is not clicking on a link that has been sent to you. You might receive an email from your bank with your name in it, with all the right logos and it might look legit. Instead of clicking the link they’ve sent, search for the website through a regular search engine and visit the site from there. This way you will know if you’re dealing with a legit website or a scam attempt.
Before entering payment details into any website, always check the web address for https:// because the letter ‘s’ after the http stands for ‘secure’. If there is no‘s’, don’t use that site.
- Keep an eye on your bank statements. The most thorough way to keep a sharp eye on your bank accounts is to cross check all your receipts with the payment history on your statements. However, this doesn’t have to be necessary. Just check your statements regularly and keep an eye out for any strange or unfamiliar transactions or recipients.