The Internet is constantly evolving, so it can be hard to keep up with the best practices to protect yourself from identity theft. In part one of this two-part series, we discussed the first five “don’ts” of Internet browsing, such as playing foreign lotteries and using weak passwords. To help you circumvent the many threats to your personal security, here is part two of the top 9 things to avoid online:
- Depositing a check to wire money
It’s one of the oldest scams in the book: someone offers you a sort of opportunity where your only task is to deposit a check and wire that money back. It seems easy enough, but it’s really an insidious attack. Fake checks take weeks to uncover, and when they are, the blame falls on you, the person who made the deposit. The damage from this type of scam can vary from having your money stolen to legal troubles for your involvement. It’s most commonly found in job postings, so beware of this fraudulent scheme if you’re looking for employment online.
- Posting too much personal information
In the age of social media, everyone is accustomed to sharing every moment of their lives. To the average user, these posts are typically harmless, but to a thief, they can provide a wealth of information. Personal details like your address and phone number should be kept private, but you don’t have to stop there. You should never post anything you don’t feel comfortable with, and the more you keep to yourself, the less you’re giving away to fraudsters. For even further protection, never accept friend requests from strangers. Sometimes, these are fake accounts made specifically to glean personal details from social media accounts. If you’ve accepted a request from someone you don’t know, you can always go back and delete and or block this “friend.”
- Visiting suspicious websites
There are a few tell-tale signs of a suspicious website. Typically, it will be poorly designed and have multiple pop-up windows. Inputting any personal information on these kinds of websites could be like handing your identity right over to a thief. If you’re shopping online, be sure to use well-known retailers with encrypted payment portals. If you’re not sure if the site you’re using is safe, look for an “https” at the beginning of the URL.
- Careless downloading
With certain malware infections on the rise, more Internet users are being cautioned to avoid downloading attachments from emails or suspicious websites. This malicious software can get onto your device, whether it’s a computer or smartphone, and exploit your data. In some cases, the infection is a “ransomware” virus that forces you to pay your hacker to free your files. PCWorld recommends thinking before you download. These viruses can come in the form of a seemingly harmless app, so be sure to read reviews before putting it on your device. You can also install anti-virus apps onto your device to protect it from attacks.
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 SSN, credit file, public records, and notify you of certain activity that may indicate fraud.