Tips & Tricks: Preventing online identity theft

What’s worse than losing your wallet? Losing your entire bank account and financial credibility. Identity theft is a real threat that strikes a growing number of internet users every day. Stay safe with tips on protecting your identity over the web.

Form-Filling

Whenever entering data in a form online that requires sensitive information such as your address or credit card numbers, look at the top left of your browser. Next to the url should be a small icon of a lock. Click on it for information regarding the level of encryption and authenticity of the site that is requesting your data. Always make sure this is present before typing anything.

Gone Phishing

Be wary of emails asking for private bank information. Phishers are notorious for imitating automated emails or officials to “bait” you and get you to give up vital information. Your financial management organization will never ask for your password. Hover the mouse over links in the email to see if they take you to a different site instead.

Plural Passwords

Increase your safety and minimize damage by having multiple passwords. Using the same phrase with different capitalizations and numbers is all right, but in the case one of them is stolen by a phisher then there is a lot less guessing involved to access different accounts. Ideally, have three or more passwords with variations in between to keep thieves from walking into your savings account and your Facebook.

Easy Encryption

For files with sensitive financial or personal information, in the event of theft it is necessary to encrypt files to prevent the wrong eyes from viewing the now obtained data. Download a variety of programs online that encrypt documents and folders, giving you sole access to your information. These programs are relatively simple to use. Start at password lock programs for small-time files then work your way up to symmetrical private-key methods like Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) for extremely sensitive material. AES is used by the government and available for public use.

Credit Cards

Keeping unnecessary items like social security cards out of your wallet is smart, but the numbers and security codes on credit and debit cards can be used to make fraudulent charges, ruin a credit score and drain funds. Call the card company as soon as your wallet is stolen. Given adequate warning companies will deactivate the cards and even reverse bogus charges on your account.