Identity Theft is Preventable with a Few Easy Steps
by Ken May
1. Do not use public computers or public wireless internet access for your online purchases.
Public computers and wireless networks can contain viruses and other malware designed to steal your personal information.
2. Secure your computer and mobile devices.
Keep all of your operating systems, software, and apps up to date/patched. Many of the updates and patches are designed to fight the latest viruses and malware.
3. Use strong passwords.
Be sure to include numbers, symbols, and a mixture of lower and upper case letters in your passwords. Any word in the dictionary can be hacked in less than 5 seconds. Be sure to change your passwords often.
4. Know your online merchants.
As hard as it is sometimes, limit who you do business with online to merchants that you know and trust. If you’re not sure, check with the Federal Trade commission or simply bypass them.
5. Use only one credit card when paying online.
Credit cards have more consumer protections than debit cards and are protected by the Fair Credit Billing Act. Use a card that has a low limit to lessen the risk. Always check your statements to see if any odd purchases were made using your card.
6. Look for “https” in the internet address when making an online purchase.
The “s” in “https” stands for “secure” and shows that communications with the website are encrypted.
7. Do not respond to pop-ups!
On a Windows machine, hit Control + F4 and on a Mac, hit Command + W to close the pop-ups. These often contain malware which attempts to steal your personal information. If pop-ups are a continual problem, talk to an IT professional.
8. Never auto-save your personal information online.
The convenience of not having to re-type this information is not nearly worth the risk involved.
9. Don’t use real information on security questions.
When you forget a password, you are oftentimes asked to answer pre-determined security questions. Using the actual city you were born in or the city that you met your spouse in is easily determined by a hacker.
10. Use common sense!
I know; this seems obvious right? However, many people still don’t hesitate giving out their personal or financial information via e-mail or text. And taping this information to your computer monitor is a big no-no as well.