For some people, going online is already a part of their daily routines. Whenever you send e-mails, post on numerous social networking sites, sign-up for newsletters, create accounts, or shop online, you automatically share and receive information. And if you’re not too careful with your online transactions, this makes you vulnerable to identity and information theft. Fortunately, there are ways to prevent this from happening to you. Read on and find out how not to be a victim of online identity theft.
- Limit the information you share online. This is the most practical tip of all. The less information about you that can be accessed online, the less likely you’ll be a victim of identity and information theft. When signing up for something, leave out personal information that’s not related or necessary to what you’re signing up for.
- Always keep your firewall on. A firewall is part of a computer system designed to prevent unauthorized access to your computer and data while you’re using the Internet or while you’re logged on to a computer network. It acts much like a brick wall or a shield between your computer and any intruders who want access to private networks. Firewall is responsible for filtering messages and data that comes in and out when you use the Internet. Those that do not meet specific security criteria are blocked. You can adjust your computer’s security settings but do not turn off your firewall. Once it is off, your computer is vulnerable to intruders and hackers.
- Keep your anti-virus software updated. You should use reliable anti-virus software. Some are free and can be downloaded in an instant like AVG, Avira AntiVir, or Avast. Check the links below for lists of the best free downloadable anti-virus software. Most anti-virus programs automatically do updates once you’re connected to the Internet. And when there’s something wrong with your software or you need to manually update it, a prompt will warn you in time. You also have the option to use a premium edition of anti-virus software; that is if you’re willing to shell some money for it. It’s usually a package containing the beefed up anti-virus program, plus other useful extras like spyware and ad or pop-up blockers to name a few.
- Do not use auto-fill. Windows has an auto fill feature that saves the information you filled out on websites like name, address, contact numbers, e-mail address, etc. It can be convenient because the next time you need to fill out something using any of this data, it would appear immediately once you type the first few characters. Do not use this feature if you’re using a public computer or sharing one with others. It’s like easily giving them the opportunity to access your files and identity.
- Disable and delete cookies. Cookies are instantly downloaded into a folder in your computer once you visit a website. These are encrypted in text format and may include a kind of ID number, login details, pages visited, domain names, even banners, graphics, and ads. Visiting one website may generate multiple cookies. The danger is that cookies contain information that can be tracked once an intruder gains access to your computer. Be selective with the websites where you enable cookies. You can open the Cookies folder and edit the contents, but this will take time. For a faster solution, use a web browser that allows for privacy settings adjustment and cookie options like Internet Explorer 6. It will help you weed out cookies coming from advertisements and annoying pop-ups.
- Shop from familiar, trusted sites. Buy only from reliable major retailers like Amazon, global shopping sites like E-bay, or honest sellers you’ve dealt with before. Use safe third-party sites such as PayPal to dispense money every time you go shopping online.
In the Internet age, almost anyone is vulnerable to identity and information theft. Be vigilant and follow these steps to prevent it from happening to you.