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?
5 Ways to Protect Yourself from Online Identity Theft
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
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.
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.
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.
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.