10 Tips to Prevent Online Identify Theft

by Ramesh Natarajan on July 8, 2011

Along with the breakthrough of the convenience brought about by the World Wide Web also comes the ultimate virtual crime that is initiated by scumbags to create havoc online: Identity Theft.

You are probably already aware of it but have no idea to prevent it, or perhaps you think it won’t probably happen to you. There is a whole new level of identity theft that is promulgating out there in the virtual world. As the World Wide Web is constantly innovating for security protocols, and so are the greatest hackers of all times are doing the same thing – innovating new state of the art ways to hack! So beware and be aware!

Now, you don’t have to panic and completely abandon your virtual life. It is probably safe to say that most online transactions are secured, but of not all of them are. There are ways that you can prevent identity theft. All you need to do is take deliberate precautions whether you are online or offline. Hence, we have come up with 10 tips to prevent online identity theft. The more you take these guidelines seriously, the less you will be prone to identity theft.

  1. Use anti-virus and anti-malware software. Make sure your Anti-virus software/Anti-malware program is up to date. Ensure that they are constantly updated. The only way you can protect your computer from backdoors, key loggers and other nefarious programs are to have both anti-virus and anti-malware programs installed.
  2. Never store unencrypted personal information in your laptop. Some people unknowingly store their account details such as social security numbers, passwords, bank account number and the likes in a text file on their computer for easy access. This is in fact a dangerous thing to do. If you need to do it then just place it in a removable storage device and keep that tool in your safe box where no virtual or physical being can access to it. Use some form of encryption to encrypt the critical information that are stored in your system.
  3. Beware of Phishing Websites. These websites can fool you if you are not careful. They can present themselves as a legitimate business site requesting for your username and password and other personal information. Be very wary of sites requesting you to give sensitive information unless of course you are applying for something online. However, if these are unsolicited then beware!
  4. Use only SSL enabled websites for secure transaction. Never transmit any financial or sensitive information across a site that does not start with https://. The “s” at the end means the site is secure and your information is safe. Otherwise, forget about it.
  5. Don’t use the same password on all websites. Create a unique password for every website you own, or for each social networking site that you have an account with. Don’t go with the easy-to-remember passwords like your name or birthday. Use a password generator software to generate unique passwords, and use password manager software to store your username and password information.
  6. Don’t share personal info everywhere. Avoid giving your personal information on social media networking sites like facebook or twitter and accepting new friends just to add to the number. One of them could be a hacker for all you know!
  7. Secure your wireless network. To avoid fraud and identity theft, ensure that your wireless network is WPA-encrypted as well as password protected.
  8. Use a shredder. Shred any private information to pieces before throwing it into trash.
  9. Deal only with reputed online businesses. Only shop or download stuff from reputable sources. If you are not sure, then do not risk it.
  10. Careful with the links embedded in your email message. Do not click links on email messages that looks suspicious, even if it came from your friend. Some viruses are known to send out email messages on behalf of the email account holders. If you use common sense you can identify this very quickly. Why would your close friend send you an email about the million dollar that is awaiting for your transfer if you follow the instructions given in the email message.

There is a plethora of other ways to prevent identity theft and the above list is just the tip of the iceberg. But knowing these simple and effective precautionary measures are a great start for your awareness of how to avoid identity theft.

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