While the Internet has now been around for decades, it’s an ever-changing terrain. For that reason, there are still plenty of users who know very little about navigating it to protect themselves from dangers like identity theft.
Whether you’re a novice or expert, there are plenty of threats to your personal security. Luckily, there are certain “do’s” and “don’ts” to help circumvent them. Here is part one of the top 9 things to avoid online:
- Sending money to a stranger
The first thing you should never do online is send money to someone you don’t know. This is a surefire way to become a victim of fraud. While you may be easily persuaded by a good story, this is poor practice when you’re online. There are too many people out there trying to scam you for money, and they know just how to tug at your heartstrings to get to your wallet. Sometimes these requests come in the form of a good offer too. Before jumping on board with a deal, do some thorough research first. You can look up the company name with keywords like “scam” or “complaint” to see if there are any prior incidents.
- Falling for a phishing scam
If you receive a message asking for personal or financial information, it’s probably a phishing scam. You should never click on links or call phone numbers included in these messages. You should also never respond to them with the requested information. If you have concerns about your account, the Federal Trade Commission recommends calling the number on your credit/debit card or bank statement to check on it.
- Unsafe browsing on a non-secure connection
Thanks to public wi-fi, connection is more widespread than ever. However, you can’t always guarantee the security of these connections, and browsing on these networks can be risky. While you don’t necessarily need to avoid all public Wi-Fi, you should avoid certain activities on these networks, like making online purchases. Because you don’t know how safe your connection is, the last thing you want to do is put your bank account information on it.
- Using weak passwords
SplashData’s annual survey of the 25 worst passwords found that many accounts online still have basic passwords like “123456” and “password,” making them incredibly vulnerable to hacks. The problem with passwords is that people choose ones they can remember, not ones that will actually protect them. It’s important to have a variety of strong passwords for different accounts. That means that each password has letters, symbols and numbers that aren’t obvious enough for a thief to guess. If you’re worried about memorizing all these complicated passwords, you should use a password manager software to help you keep track of them.
- Playing a foreign lottery
Not only is playing a foreign lottery illegal, it’s also an easy way to get scammed. Often, these promising chances of winning a lottery are tempting, and sometimes they say you’ve already won. The catch? They prompt you to send money for taxes or fees to collect the prize. A good rule of thumb to follow is: if you have to send money to get money, you probably aren’t winning anything at all.
Though you can be as careful as possible online, you may still have worries about your vulnerability to identity theft. For these concerns, you can invest in a service like Identity Guard to monitor your credit file, SSN and public records, and notify you of certain activity that may indicate fraud.