June 24, 2014
We see it happen all too often these days. Whether shopping online or simply browsing social media and then weeks later, you get a notification for overdue bills or a negative bank balance. In today’s digital era, stealing someone’s identity is easier than ever since everyone stores their stuff electronically now. Use these simple tips to avoid identity theft and falling at the hands of a hacker:
Log Out: Extremely simple yet extremely overlooked. Remember to log out as soon as you’re done in your account to ensure that no one else will have access to it after you. This is especially important if you’re using a public computer.
Use Strong Passwords: An identity thief’s dream is a weak password they can easily hack. They hit the jackpot if you use the same password for all of your online accounts. Try to use passwords with more than 10 characters that are a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. Additionally, don’t let the password have anything in relation to personal information like a birthday or pet.
Browse Incognito: Both Firefox and Google Chrome offer private browsing modes that allow you additional online security and privacy. Using this mode will disable the browser’s functionality that typically saves login information and passwords. That way, if for some reason your computer or phone is stolen, you will know that the thief will not have access to any passwords or web history.
Choose Credit: Credit card users aren’t liable for fraudulent charges greater than $50, and many banks provide liability protection to waive this fee. However, for debit cards, the charge can jump to as much as $500 if suspicious behavior isn’t reported within two days.
Also, check with your credit card company online and see if they offer an option to create one-shot credit card numbers. When you exercise this option to make a purchase online, the number received by the merchant will be valid for just that transaction.
Boost Your Security Answers: Additional security questions are often very easy to crack. By customizing your answers by adding extra characters to the end of the answer, you’ll reduce your risk of being hacked. If you don’t want to add extra characters, give an answer that is completely irrelevant to the question.
Set Banking Alerts: Banks offer a system that will text you each time a transaction is made with your card. You can also customize it and only have it notify you if a transaction is over a certain amount. This way, if you get an alert and didn’t make any purchase, you’ll know to contact your bank immediately that someone has your information.
By using these resources and staying aware, you can reduce your risk of having your identity stolen. Remember to treat your personal information as you would handle your money—don’t leave it laying around for anyone to take.
Photo By: Yuri Samoilov / Flickr