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Identity theft is a horrible, but realistic issue that we have to deal with in our society. With the rise of social media people sometimes don’t realize the dangers that come with putting personal information online. There are ways you can protect yourself and lessen the likelihood of ending up in this awful situation.
I know it can be hard to remember all of the passwords we have today, what with Facebook, your personal and office email accounts, online banking, Skype, and cash machine pin codes, but you should never write down your password or use the same one for each of your accounts.
Do not use birthdays or easy to guess sequence of numbers (such as 1234, 9876, 1470 or 2580) as your pin code. When creating passwords for your online accounts you should use a combination of a lowercase character, an uppercase character, and a number or symbol. These passwords are also harder to crack the longer they are, and anyone who is trying to watch your hands as you type a password into an account will have a harder time of catching it this way.
Identity thieves often steal people’s mail to get their personal information so the number one tip I have for you is to shred or burn any important documents (or rather, sign up for things like online banking so there are no bank statements to be stolen) before throwing them out for someone else to pick up. Also, be very careful when moving that all of your mail is in fact being forwarded to you.
Your bank should never ask for any passwords over email so if they do make sure to call them and question the legitimacy of the email before giving away any information. If you are having banking problems, do try to go into the actual bank to solve them or if you are giving any banking information over the phone be sure there is no one around to eavesdrop.
If you’re making a purchase from an individual and not a well known company, for example through Etsy or Craigslist, you should never simply deposit the money into the person’s bank account. Great programs like PayPal are there for a reason; to ensure your online shopping safety and that of the person you’re making the purchase from, so be wary of anyone who tries to dissuade you from using these services.
Check your account information after the purchase has been made so you can be sure the right amount was taken from your account and not a penny more. You should also be sure to keep your receipts in case anything should go wrong with the purchase.
Businesses can also become targets for fraud and should take the necessary precautions for preventing this, such as using serious anti-virus software, asking employees to sign certain confidentiality agreements, using ID card printers to be sure only certain people have access to the office, and regulate what can and cannot be downloaded onto company computers.
Do you have any tips for protecting yourself from internet scams and identity thieves?
James Duval is a techie who blogs about online safety for various blogs and companies like IDPro.