It is no secret that the internet can be a very dangerous place when it comes to identity theft with many avenues for potential fraud. With thieves becoming more and more sophisticated in their tactics for tricking internet users into handing over sensitive personal identification information, it is hard for some Americans – especially those who have been victims of identity theft in the past – to trust online services, especially those that ask for personal information.
However, not every website is a front for hackers looking to get sensitive info off of your hard drive or dupe you into compromising your bank accounts. The fact remains that it is easier and often more economically viable to conduct business or pay bills over the internet, but trusting in a website’s touted “ironclad security” may not be a smart move. You need to know what to look out for whenever you surf the web – and on all of your internet-connected devices – that could be a red flag indicative of even a minor security flaw.
Here are a few very basic tips and tricks you can follow that will help make you a more responsible internet user. While it is impossible to 100 percent prevent thieves from taking over your identity, you can take precautions to remove human error from the equation when tracking down where you went wrong.
- Take stock of what devices you use to access the internet, such as your smartphone, tablet and laptop or desktop computer. Create unique and long passcodes or pass phrases to be sure that only you can access them should a thief attempt either stealing one of these devices or using it when you aren’t around.
- Passwords need to be more than just unique to each device and account – you need every one to be lengthy and complicated so that cracking your account requires much more than just a simple guessing game.
- As hackers have gotten more advanced, so have the security measures in place to make your accounts safe. That means there needs to be more than just a password between access to your personal information and a potential thief, so be sure to enable a two-factor authentication to all devices and internet services you use.
- You may not assume as much, but applications you download to your mobile devices can’t function without accessing a bevy of information on your phone. While a certain app may be nifty, consider the risk you are taking by allowing it to view your location and social media accounts before allowing it to increase your phone’s vulnerability.
- Back up all of the information you keep on your devices to either an online cloud or an external hard drive so that if you have to replace your device you’ll still have access to all of your information after the fact.
You also need to be sure that, after you’ve taken your own steps to secure your information, the websites you visit are secure and your personal privacy settings aren’t lacking. You can take a comprehensive approach by looking at these instructions for improving security on many of the Web’s most popular sites, and then supplement this behavior by enlisting the help of a credit monitoring service to act as a second set of eyes, notifying you of certain activity taking place in your name that may indicate fraud.