Data breaches are happening almost daily and it has never been more important to protect your online identity. Your personal information is extremely valuable to criminals. If they can get your name, address, phone number or banking details, they can use this information to steal your identity and commit fraud. Then this information can be used to open accounts, apply for loans, benefits, or obtain a driver’s license or passport. It can be very time consuming and costly to undo the effects of having your identity stolen. However, by taking precautions while online, you can greatly reduce this risk.
Reduce the Risk
Questions to Ask Yourself
Keeping your identity safe can seem like a daunting task. However there are some simple questions and techniques you can use to keep your online sessions safe and reduce your risk of identity theft.
- Am I familiar with this site? Have I been on this site before? Does anything look different from the last time I visited? Is this a spoofed website?
- Is this a reputable place? Am I putting myself at risk by using this network? Should I use my phone’s cellular service instead?
- How did I end up at this site? Did I click an unexpected link in an email or
random pop-up? Did I type in the website’s address?
- Use caution when filling out your social media profile. Do you need to fill out every detail?
- Lie about your security questions. Why use your mother’s real maiden name? Use a
different name to make it more difficult to guess.
- Never give out your Social Security number to
strangers who call, text or email you. If
you feel that the request is legitimate, look up the phone number yourself and
call them instead. By using a known legitimate avenue of communication you can
avoid falling for scammers.
- Always verify a URL is using secure protocols. Before entering Personable & Identifiable Information (PII) or your credit card on a
website, ensure the website is using a secure protocol by looking for URLs
containing HTTPS (eg. https://onlinestore.com). This is also notated by the
lock icon in the URL bar in Google Chrome.
- Avoid divulging PII or credit card information
on public networks. “Free” WiFi networks
found in coffee shops, airports, and other areas can be very risky. If you
cannot wait until you get home, using your phone as an internet hotspot
(tethering) is a much safer option.