Learn How to Protect Your Online Identity
Your online identity is one of the most important things you have. It's your gateway to all sorts of information and services, including those provided by banks and credit card companies, as well as social media sites like Facebook and LinkedIn. As a result, it's critical that you protect your identity both in real life and on the internet—and there are some simple steps you can take to do so.
How Can I Stop identity Thieves from Stealing my Information?
For the most part, there's no way to completely avoid identity theft. After all, if you're on the Internet and someone wants your data badly enough, they can take it. But there are a few things you can do to make yourself less of a target:
Ignore All Unsolicited Email Attachments
The first step to protecting yourself online is to ignore all unsolicited email attachments. If you don't know the sender of an email, don't open it. If you opened it and clicked on a link, don't click on any more links. And if you opened it and clicked on a link, delete the email immediately.
If you've been infected by malware or ransomware, there's not much that can be done besides restoring your computer from a backup that was made before the infection occurred (if available).
Beware of Phishing Messages and Calls
You'll want to be wary of phishing messages and calls, which can compromise your credential data and more with malware-infected links and attachments, or through phone scams requesting your sensitive information directly from you.
A common example of phishing is an email that appears to be from a legitimate company but is an attempt to trick you into giving out personal information such as credit card numbers, passwords, or other credentials. It's important not to click on links in emails because they can be designed so that when you click on them it automatically downloads malicious software onto your computer without your permission. If an email looks suspicious do not open any attachments or click on any links inside the message.
If someone calls claiming to represent a business such as Google or Facebook and asks for your password over the phone don't give it out! Instead hang up immediately because this person could be trying to steal access to all your online accounts by gaining access through one single account (i.e., yours). You should also never give out personal information such as credit card numbers over the phone unless you are certain who is calling or texting.
Avoid Sharing Too Much on Social Media
The next step to protecting your identity online is to avoid sharing too much personal information in social media posts. Don’t share your full name, address, phone number and email address. Don’t share your birth date, or other personal information that can be used to verify your identity. Also, we highly recommend avoiding posting photos of yourself or your family members — and never share details about where you live or work.
It can also be helpful to remain anonymous on the internet by using an alias when posting on social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Google+ or by keeping your accounts private. This way it will be harder for criminals looking for victims to find your real information.
Use Strong Passwords for Every Account
Your passwords are the first line of defense against hackers, so the best way to protect yourself is to use strong, unique passwords for every account. To keep your accounts safe, we highly recommend using a password manager to generate and store unique passwords for each of your accounts.
Don’t forget your password might be easier to remember if you create memorable words in place of random characters—but it also makes it easier to guess. Also, be sure to change your passwords regularly; this will make it harder for someone who has stolen them from one site (or even several) from getting access on another site as well!
Limit the Access Others Have to Your Devices
While the importance of protecting your passwords is self-evident, you should also be mindful of the passwords that others have access to.
Never give out your password to anyone, ever.
Do not share it with anyone, whether it's a friend or an employee at a company where you've signed up for something online (and even if they need it for legitimate reasons). You might think sharing this information will make things easier for everyone involved—for example, if you're trying to log into an account on someone else's computer or phone—but this can lead to all sorts of problems down the road if that person becomes compromised by malware or phishing scams.
Avoid Unsecured Public Wi-Fi Networks
Avoiding public Wi-Fi is a good idea, but you may not be able to avoid it completely. You can, however, take precautions when using public networks by using a virtual private network (VPN) that encrypts data between your computer and the VPN server. These tools are inexpensive and will give you peace of mind while surfing on a network that could otherwise be dangerous for your identity.
Check your Bank and Credit Card Accounts
To protect your identity, it's important to regularly check your bank and credit card accounts for unauthorized transactions. If you find any suspicious activity on your account, immediately notify the financial institution in question so they can investigate further.
Also, check your credit reports at least once a year. Credit reports are free, so there's no good reason not to do this; they're the best way to monitor your credit history and catch fraudulent activity as soon as it happens.
Update Your Computer Regularly
It’s important to use the latest security software and operating systems available on your computer because they often include new protections against the most recent threats. Be sure to consistently update your security programs and computer system when it prompts you too. This can not only help protect your identity but will keep your computer running in tip top shape.
Subscribe to an Identity Protection Service
If you're still uneasy about your online identity, go one step further and sign up for an identity protection service, such as MIProtect Identity Protection from MIProTechs. MIProtect provides complete identity protection for you and the people you care about. You can protect your identity, funds, social media, and other assets against online predators, scams, and hacks with digital coverage and security.
The Internet is a great way to get the things you need, but it can also be a minefield when it comes to protecting your personal information. The key to staying safe online is making sure that you take precautions when using any device with an Internet connection. By following these tips and guarding yourself against possible threats, you can enjoy the benefits of being connected while knowing that no one else has access to your personal data.
If you are interested in going one step further and subscribing to our MIProtect Identity Protection Service, give us a call! Our team would be happy to go over everything and get you signed up.