How to Protect Your Identity Online?

by Keith Morris

Topic: Identity Protection

Identity theft includes serious crimes such as someone stealing your details to access your financial accounts or run up debts in your name. You can find yourself with legal and financial problems if a criminal steals your identity, and it can be challenging to protect your details in an increasingly technological world.

It’s unlikely you're going to stop using the internet to make financial transactions; banks often prefer their customers to utilize online services. However, you can take steps to protect yourself from identity theft. 

By following some simple tips, you can make it harder for a criminal to steal your details for financial gain.


Strengthen Your Password Protection

It’s essential to use a different password for each account you have online. If a criminal were to learn your password for one account, they could use it to access others. Using a different password for each company you deal with can restrict the potential damage to a single financial account. 

When choosing passwords, use a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers, and special characters. It’s tempting to use a password that is easy to remember, such as your birthday or wedding anniversary. However, if a criminal engaged in identity theft learns your personal details, they could easily guess your password. It’s also a good idea to change your passwords on each account several times a year.

If you struggle to keep track of all the different passwords you have for various accounts, consider investing in password management software, such as LastPass or Dashlane. These secure encrypted programs allow you to store and retrieve all your passwords with ease and generate random passwords if you need hyper-level security.

Install Online Security Systems

A security system blocks harmful software from infecting your computer.

One of the most crucial aspects of ID protection is using an online security system. Criminals can infect your computer with viruses that steal your personal details. It’s unlikely you would know they have stolen your identity until they have made financial transactions in your name. 

A security system blocks harmful software from infecting your computer. Most online security systems also provide reports so you can see how often and when someone has attempted to install a virus on your computer. The reports also display which website you were on at the time of the attack. You can use this information to block those sites, so you don’t give the criminal another opportunity to steal your details.


Sign Up to Sites With Your Email

Anyone who gains access to your Facebook or Instagram account could use those details to log in to sites where you make financial transactions.

It’s becoming increasingly common for websites to offer the ability to sign up using your social media accounts. However, this means that anyone who gains access to your Facebook or Instagram account could use those details to log in to sites where you make financial transactions

It’s always best to sign up for new websites using your email address. You can then use a unique password on that site to make it more difficult for online criminals to steal your identity.


Be Careful What You Post Online

Criminals could use information to call your bank, pretend to be you, and have your password reset so they can access your account.

Sometimes online criminals don’t have to work very hard to find out detailed information about their targets. Many people already display their name, hometown, school attended, where they work, and their phone number on social media sites. Criminals could use this information to call your bank, pretend to be you, and have your password reset so they can access your account.

Many social media users also reveal too much of their personal life online. Even if you don’t think you share a lot of personal information online, you may be displaying more than you think. Geotags on photos show criminals where you live if you display photos of your home, and tagging work colleagues could reveal where you work.


Safeguard Your Financial Documents

When disposing of documents, first use a roller stamp to obscure personal information.

Part of online ID protection happens offline. Criminals can obtain crucial financial details by stealing your paper statements. When they know your account name and number, it is easier for them to spend money in your name. If you intend to keep your documentation at home, store them in a locked drawer or safe. When disposing of documents, first use a roller stamp to obscure personal information.

You can also invest in a paper shredder to turn the paper into tiny pieces and burn the documents if you have a fire or even an outdoor grill. It’s best not to dispose of important paperwork in a bin, even if you have put it through a shredder. Thieves could reassemble the documents and use your details to access online accounts.


Check Your Credit Report

By keeping an eye on your credit report, you can spot the discrepancy early and address it quickly.

Credit agencies such as Equifax, Experian, and Transunion collate your financial data from banks, credit card companies, and loan agencies. If you take out credit, the information will be on your credit report. Regularly check your details to ensure you are aware of any credit that is in your name.

Online criminals can take out loans using your financial details, and you may not be aware of the problem for several months. By keeping an eye on your credit report, you can spot the discrepancy early and address it quickly.  

You are entitled to a free credit report once each year. However, it may be best to sign up for a paid plan that allows you to check your credit report more frequently to limit your credit standing damage. It’s vital to be aware of the potential for identity theft all year round, and having instant access to your credit report is one practical solution. 


Learn How to Identify Online Scams

Phishing: All You Need to Know

If you receive an email asking you to click a link to claim a prize, it’s more than likely an attempt to infect your computer with a virus.

Some online scams can be hard to spot, but you should be wary of any offers that look too good to be true. If you receive an email asking you to click a link to claim a prize, it’s more than likely an attempt to infect your computer with a virus. Criminals can then access your personal details and commit identity theft. 

Banks and government agencies never ask you to confirm your identity online. Before clicking on a link from one of these agencies, phone them and ask if they sent you an email. Criminals can create email templates that look authentic, and it’s always better to err on the side of caution.

Check out our article on Lifelock Family Plans review to better protect your family from online scams

Conclusion

Protecting your identity online is challenging in the digital era. However, you can reduce the risk of becoming a victim of online identity theft using common sense and following some simple tips, such as changing your password, using antivirus software, and being aware of what you post online. As companies encourage consumers to spend more time online, identity protection is of increasing importance.


About the Author

Keith Morris is a 20+ year veteran of the security game, with the knowledge and experience to set you on the right track toward personal safety and security. His firm is committed to giving you the tools and know-how to combat any threat to your safety.

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