While just about everyone thinks about things like closing the curtains when undressing for personal privacy, many don’t think about protecting their privacy online. But just about all of us have things online that are important to hide from the prying eyes of others, from bank account and credit card numbers to medical records. The 2018 Identity Fraud: Fraud Enters a New Era of Complexity report revealed there were nearly 17 million identity fraud victims in 2017. It was a record high that broke the previous year’s record high.
Hackers search for this data as it can be used to make them money by using personal information for fraud, identify theft, duplicating credit cards or even blackmail. You probably worked very hard to earn that credit score that allowed you to secure a mortgage on the home you bought among Charlotte real estate or wherever you happen to live. And, even if you don’t think your credit is worth stealing, understand that hackers can use your social security number to commit all types of fraud in your name – credit-related fraud is just one of the more common ways that identity theft plays out.
Protect your privacy online by following these tips.
Keep All Your Devices and Accounts Password Protected
You may think you don’t need to password-protect your home computer, but if it’s not secured and gets stolen, it’s a great source for all your personal information which can result in identity theft and worse. Keep all your digital devices protected with passwords, including smartphones, tablets, computers and any others that might have your personal data on them.
In almost all cases, you’ll have to set up a password for your accounts, the key is to use strong passwords. Don’t use the same one for more than one site – if you do and one is hacked, they could all end up being compromised. Using a password manager can help you keep track of them all if you’re not one of the few people that have a photographic memory.
If your computer is infected by malware or a virus, it allows hackers to enter, dig through your data and rob you of your identity. Or, they could lock your computer files so that you can’t get to them and demand a ransom to get them back. It’s important to install antivirus software to keep it protected and all software up to date which can help close any security holes.
Don’t Reveal Too Much Online
Posting on social media may feel like your chatting with family and close friends, but sometimes those conversations are broadcast to the entire world. That information can be used to find out just what you’re up to, for example, posting a status update on Facebook or Twitter that says something like, “Woo hoo! I’m flying off to Jamaica for the week and leaving this miserable office behind!” That not only tells would-be thieves that your house might just be a prime target with no one there but if it gets back to your employer or potential employers, it can compromise your career as well.
Not only should you be careful about what you share, but you should also be sure that you’re sharing only with those you feel comfortable sharing with by adjusting privacy settings on Facebook, for example. Don’t fill out profiles in full, providing all the information one might need to steal your identity either.