Everyone has heard about the dangers of identity theft, but it’s sometimes hard to know how to be safe and still enjoy the conveniences of our increasingly digital world. Almost any financial transaction can be done online — but it’s important to protect your financial data. Between ordering dinner online and transferring money into your saving account through the Internet, there may be opportunities for someone to access your personal information. Here are some tips that can help keep you safe online. None of these are a silver bullet guaranteeing security, but they can go a long way in making you a more difficult target for identity thieves.
1. Use Secure Sites
Many retailers and websites do not have secure payment systems, so be sure to stick with trusted online retailers or sites that use reputable payment processors such as PayPal. It’s a good idea to keep an eye out for the padlock icon on on your browser, which indicates the site is safe. Furthermore, storing sensitive data on non-secure websites such as some online calendars and organizers can be dangerous because they are not protected.
2. Switch Up Passwords
Reusing passwords may seem an easy solution to remembering your login information, but it’s a good practice to use a different password for each account you access online. This way, if someone knows your password for one account, they cannot access all of your information on other accounts.
3. Secure Your Network
Whether it be your home network or at work, it’s important to use a secure network that hackers cannot access. Check the documentation for your wireless router so you can learn how to lock your router and encrypt your information. This important action does not affect your Internet access, but it protects your information.
4. Destroy Private Records
Shredding all credit card statements, solicitations and any documents that list private financial information keeps your printed information safe. Be careful not to leave a paper trail with ATM, credit card or other receipts. Another option: Go paperless.
5. Set Banking Alerts
Picking a bank with email and text alerts when your accounts reach certain conditions can be increasingly important in this world of online financial interactions. These alerts can ensure you find out about any unauthorized access right away and get ahead of any fraudulent account use.
6. Don’t Put Private Information on Public Computers
Sometimes we do not have access to our private computers and use computers at libraries or other public spaces. If you access a private account from one of these computers, be sure to completely log out from all your accounts and never choose to save login information on these computers. This is a good idea even if you are using a friend’s computer because you can’t always be sure how careful they will be with the computer (which now has your personal info).
Being careful with your information and checking your accounts regularly is the best way to protect yourself against identity theft. One slip up can be the difference in your finances being safe and at risk. If you do find yourself a victim of identity theft, there are some steps to take immediately to limit the impact.
7. Monitor Your Credit
Checking your credit report regularly (here’s how you can get yours for free) is key to managing your identification safety. Look over your report for inaccuracies for possible criminal activity. You can also monitor your credit scores for free every month on Credit.com.
More on Identity Theft:
- Identity Theft: What You Need to Know
- How Do I Dispute an Error on My Credit Report?
- 3 Dumb Things You Can Do With Email