How to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft Online

by SSF | Last Updated Sep. 1st, 2013

Identity theft is a big problem, with financial losses from this shady practice topping $50 billion a year.  So what can you do to stop it happening to you?  In this digital age, there are more and more ways a scammer can get your information, so where should you keep a look out?

Phishing Websites

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image via Flickr by avlxyz

Phishing websites are web pages set up to look exactly like another website.  They ask for the login details for that site and then they ask for some more information too.  Commonly,  these sites are at their most dangerous when targeting bank customers.

So how can you avoid having your information stolen?  Well, first up: don’t give out any information you wouldn’t normally give out.  This means no bank account numbers, social security or home addresses.  If you’re in doubt, go to the homepage of the site in question and give them a call to ask.

Anti-virus and Anti-malware

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image via Flickr by joelogon

Another popular way scammers can get hold of your information is through a virus or malware.  By sending a file to your computer, they can track your web usage and keystrokes, finding out your passwords as they go.

The first step is not downloading any file you don’t trust.  Second, you need to install anti-virus and anti-malware. Make sure to take it a step further and have a company scan everything for you, such as the people at Lifelock.com.  Only then can you feel slightly safe on the web.

Passwords

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image via Flickr by jonas maaloe

You’re still not completely safe, though. Even with these steps, it’s possible for someone to get ahold of your password.  That’s why it’s important to have different passwords for each website and to change the important ones regularly. Secure passwords are one of the most important steps against identity theft, so there’s no excuse.

Secure Your Router

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image via Flickr by butkaj.com

Everything you do on the web passes through your router, so it’s important to make sure that this device is secure. Without a password, not only can a neighbor access your internet, but they can view your internet usage.  With the fix being just a simple password, this is one of the quickest ways to prevent identity theft.

Shopping Websites

Amazon or Play are both secure websites, but what about some of the smaller retailers? Online shopping is such big business that there are thousands of sites out there. How can you be sure they’re legit?  You should check that they’re safe with your anti-virus and anti-malware programs.

Social Media

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image via Flickr by IvanWalsh.com

As we all get more social — surprisingly often with strangers — there is more and more information out there to be stolen. One of the simplest ways of preventing identity theft is by not giving away too much personal information on social media sites. This way, scammers will have to find more imaginative ways to get your info.

These are just a few simple methods to keep your identity safe online.  Whatever you do, just use common sense.  If you have an email from a friend containing a link and nothing else, don’t open it.  There are many more tips like this that can help keep your identity secure.

 

 

 
 
   
 
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