Protecting Your Online Identity: Simple Steps to Avoid Identity Fraud from Technology

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Protect your identity being stolen via the Internet. Image by Don Hankins

After finding out that I had been a victim of identity fraud a month or so ago, I had to take a look at how that could have happened – I don’t click on links in emails unless I request the email and can verify the sender, and I rarely use my credit card details online unless I shop directly through a certain store.

Luckily, it was just my name and address that was used – I say luckily because I did not end up with money being stolen.

Online fraud is a real problem in our society today – so be vigilant, and follow best practices on the Internet to protect your identity.

Invest in Credit Report Notification

Sign up to receive notification about changes to your credit file, but make sure you use the trusted sites like Experian and Equifax.

They charge a monthly fee, but you are instantly alerted about any change or search on your credit file.

You will be emailed that there has been a change and then instructed to login to the account where you can see the details.

Avoid Giving Too Much Information

Many sites have registrations forms to fill out and certain details will be required. Only fill out the information that you have to when signing up to websites. This limits the amount of information that can be passed onto third parties or available should that website be hacked.

If possible, give false details, particularly when you have no ongoing relationship with the company. Where possible, avoid filling out information over the Internet at all – only give information to companies that you can trust.

Do Not Send Details to Third Parties

When filling out forms, there is always a section to ask you if you would like to receive news from third parties. Read this part carefully as some forms ask you to check the box to avoid your details being sent to third parties while others ask you to uncheck the box. By limiting the people who can see your details, you’ll limit the chance of hackers stealing the information.

Password Security

You should choose secure passwords, and change them every 90 days. Avoid predictable cycles, as hackers may figure them out and know when you will use each password. Email accounts like Hotmail give you the option to set a reminder to change your password, and will not allow you to use a password you have used in the past.

Never use the same passwords for different logins – just like you should never use the same PIN number for your bank cards. Pick passwords that have a mixture of uppercase and lowercase letters, numbers and special characters. The harder they are for you to remember, the harder it is for a hacker to guess. Avoid words from the dictionary, as hackers use software to scan for these words. Avoid numbers in a sequence, your birth date (or one in your family) and words like “password” as these are commonly guessed by hackers – even if you use dollar signs as the ‘s’ in password.

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