Identity theft: How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure

The Internet has never been more fast or accessible as it is now, and is only expected to grow further in its reach. With this increase in accessibility, the web is getting more and more users every day. With that, it is now becoming hard to protect one’s information and identity online. The threat of identity theft online is tangible and growing in its severity by the day. In such an environment all one can do is take steps to keep their personal information secure.

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Keeping your information safe offline is simple enough. Every responsible person has enough common sense to keep their personal belongings secure. Nevertheless, extra care should be taken to ensure the safety of one’s wallet and mobile devices. In case of theft or robbery, one must immediately report the whole incident to the authorities and make sure to block all the credit cards at once.

Keeping your information safe online can be a tricky business. With social media practically blurring the boundaries of privacy, it is extremely hard to keep your personal data safe online. Nevertheless, the task is not impossible, if somewhat difficult.

Beware of Impersonators

At times we receive emails, text messages or even direct messages on the social media from impersonators. Most of the time one can tell if someone is impersonating, but with skilled con artists, it is hard to tell. Impersonators will often offer users incentives ranging from discounts to gits to offering winnings from a lottery they never applied for. Other times people also receive phone calls from someone alleging to calling from their banks or an online retailer they visited. They can convince them to reveal their personal details by providing with some of the information they already have. In such cases, it is important to remember that banks or other retailers never ask your PIN number or passwords by contacting you directly.

Do not Share too much on Social Media

One should always be careful with what they share on their social media accounts. Oversharing on social media, and that too on a public account can lead to identity theft as well. When you share your personal details on your SM accounts it becomes far to easy for scammers and cybercriminals to target and bully you. It is common sense to know that information like ID card numbers, passwords and PINs should never be posted online, or sent to anyone via DM. moreover, you should also be aware as to not share any information like answers to our security questions on any of our online accounts.

Use Two Factor Authentication

There are many ways to keep your online accounts and identification secure, one of which is two-factor authentication. A lot of businesses and social media website employ this method to verify their users’ identities online. This enables them to see whether the user is actually who s/he says they are. Discover more about identity theft prevention here.

Use Data Encryption and Anti Virus Software

Often if you have sensitive data on your devices it is wise to use data encryption. Also when you frequently communicate sensitive information through emails you should take care to use email encryption plugins. Data encryption may also help you to protect your information in case your device(s) is stolen or lost. Moreover, you should also keep your antivirus definitions up to date as well. They may not be helpful in deterring a skilled hacker but they can slow down or stop an average one.

Beware of “Cookies”

Scam or illegitimate websites often use cookies to acquire a person’s personal details and compromise their identity. Cookies are primarily harmless and are small codes saved to your computer when you visit a website. They assist a website in and to check to see if the user has visited the website previously. Certain websites, however, use such cookies to obtain a user’s personal information i.e. account numbers, passwords, date of birth, etc. One should be aware of such scam websites. To prevent falling for such scams, it is useful to restrict access and permissions for websites that you may deem are insecure through your browser’s settings.

Do not Fall for Free WiFi

Scammers often entrap people by setting up free wifi hotspots in public places. Such connections are insecure and enable them to access and store your personal information if you access any personal accounts while using the connection. That information is later used by the person in fraudulent activities including identity theft and credit card fraud.

Make Strong Passwords

The importance of keeping strong passwords cannot be stressed enough. As confusing and tiring as the whole process of remembering and maintaining passwords may seem, it is imperative for any online user to use strong passwords that cannot be guessed easily. Many experts suggest using unique phrases that are familiar only to you along with numbers and symbols. Moreover, avoid giving your passwords to anyone, even if they are close to you. Make sure to log out of your accounts if you are using a public computer.

Use Secure Websites

To avoid any sort of malware or malicious content it is preferable to use websites you are familiar with and or have used frequently. One rule of thumb to adopt is to check to see if the URL of the website you are using contains “http” or “https”. Websites with http at the start of their URLs are most probably unsafe and should be avoided altogether. There also appears a small lock sign beside a safe link; be sure to check it before using any new websites.

Privacy Policies

Reading a privacy policy of a website that you have an account on, or even your own bank’s website can seem tedious and unnecessary. However, it is smart to take the time to go through them as they outline how the website collects personal information and uses it. They conform to any data protection laws. By reading such details you can get to know of anything suspicious in the website’s security and access protocols and can avoid using it altogether.

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