With all the different options available online, it can be difficult to protect your personal information. Learning how to protect your identity online is an important skill that will protect you in the future. Use these 7 tips to your advantage and teach yourself how to protect your identity online.
1. Use Strong Passwords
Using a strong password is a difference-maker if you want to learn how to protect your identity online. Strong passwords may be a hassle to input, but they make it even harder for intruders to access your data. Stay away from passwords that have to do with you personally such as names of people in your life, your pet’s names, or obvious numbers associated with yourself like your birth year. Using a password that mixes letters, numbers, and symbols is your best bet for protecting your information online.
2. Only Make Transactions With Reputable Companies
A lot of cases of identity fraud can be avoided by simply doing business with companies you trust. Taking the time to research a company and their customer reviews can stop you from walking into a trap. Look at what people have to say about the support they received and their overall experience.
At a minimum, the website should use HTTPS (Hypertext transfer protocol Secure) on all their pages which ensures the connection is secure. It’s worth looking on social media sites such as Reddit and Twitter to gauge the experiences people have had with a particular website. Trust your gut, and when in doubt, pass on using strange websites.
3. Use Different Emails For Different Purposes
Another way to protect your identity online is to use multiple email addresses to your advantage. The more you use one email, the more inundated you become with spam and junk messages. Sometimes you just want to input your email so you can see certain content, or play a game, even if you don’t necessarily trust the website.
A throwaway email is perfect for this situation and will prevent your real email address from being spammed with offers. Try and maintain separate emails for your work and personal lives. It’s also a good idea to have a 3rd email for random things you do on the Internet.
4. Use Two-Factor Authentication For Sensitive Accounts
For your more sensitive accounts, two-factor authentication is an excellent tool for protecting your identity online. Even the strongest passwords are no good if someone manages to get their eyes on them. But with two-factor authentication, you need to enter your strong password and confirm a code that’s only visible on one of your personal devices.
Apps like Google Authenticator allow you to use two-factor authentication with websites that offer this option. Adding in the extra step of entering the code is tedious, but it’s a great way to keep your information safe. Accounts with two-factor authentication cannot be compromised unless both your password and personal device have been stolen.
5. Don’t Respond To Junk Mail
If you want to learn how to protect your identity online, avoid interacting with junk mail. There’s no reason to click or open junk mail. Junk mail is home to many different phishing scams that can be hard to spot. A common scam is when hackers send out an email with your bank’s logo and address pretending that you need to confirm your information.
Always double-check the “from” email to avoid falling for these types of scams. Many junk emails will attempt to extort you by claiming to own your personal information or your internet history. These are common tactics to try and get you to respond so they can rope you into some type of scam. In an organizational setting, make sure your IT service provider is robust enough to protect your network from these malicious junk email messages.
6. Be Careful Of Games Linked To Your Social Media Accounts
One of the more innocent things that can comprise your online security is social media games. Games on sites such as Facebook often use your personal information in order to let you play the game. Playing games sometimes requires you giving profile access to the third-party game developer.
Your social media information can include things like your last name, marital status, high school, and pet names. While this information may seem useless, these are common things people use as answers for security questions for their finances. There’s no reason to make this type of information public and make things easier for people with malicious intentions.
7. Periodically Delete Old Posts
Another way to make things harder for people with malicious intentions is to clean up your online profile periodically. People can learn a lot about you just by scrolling back through your Twitter timeline, Instagram feed, or Facebook profile.
You likely don’t even remember the things you said on social media 3 or 5 years ago, but these thoughts can be quickly accessed by anyone who cares to look. It’s worth taking the time to delete your old social media posts, particularly the ones that offer any information about your personal life.