Your identity online is every bit as important as it in the physical world. Because of that, there are safeguarding measures that you should follow to ensure your identity is safe and secure. Today, scammers don’t care who you are – they just want your identity and your money. Beyond that, they are some of the hardest people to catch and track. There are several scams that span cyberspace and our the physical world too.
One common scam today is an IRS tax scam. You’ll receive a phone call from an “IRS representative” and they will tell you that you’re going to jail if you don’t pay them past due taxes. You’ll be asked to give your social and your bank account number. At that point, you’re compromised. Here are five ways to safeguard your identity to protect yourself from potential scammers and hackers.
- Logout. This is a common mistake people make when they are checking their bank accounts or other financial information. Staying logged in leaves you susceptible to online attacks because you have already done half of what the hacker needs. Just “x”ing out of the page doesn’t automatically log you out. Be cautious too, about the length you stay on a financial site. All it takes is a little timing and one wrong move and your information is compromised.
- When buying items online, don’t leave your checking or debit card information in their system as a perpetual payment option. Even though the information is redacted in many forms, part of the financial information is still exposed. A few numbers is all a hacker needs to reproduce your number. You don’t even have to be logged into the site when it happens. Oftentimes, hackers use complicated algorithms and code to replicate your number.
- Don’t post about where you are on social media. This is perfect fodder for someone to see it and invade your house while you are away. This is especially the case when you post that you’re on vacation because thieves are going to see you’ll be gone for awhile giving them a little more time to plan their heist. If you post about your vacation or your whereabouts, post about them after the fact.
- Run a virus scan at your scheduled maintenance days. This should be done frequently to make sure no lingering viruses exist on your computer, particularly the ones that can scan your information from off your computer. Virus scans often do not take long to do and keeping it as part of your normal computer routine will go a long way in safeguarding your information.
- Change your password every so often. While there is no set rule that says when you must change your password, it is preferable to change it often. Many financial institutions and social media sites now require you to change your password every 3 months, or even 6 months. Many places of employment now make that a requirement as well. Here is a tip when changing your password: use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters. Also, make sure to stay away from spoken phrases.
Safeguard your identity wherever you go and never give out financial or personal information to anyone that doesn’t need it. Use wisdom and discernment when being approached about this and contact the local authorities if the need arises.