The Internet is used for many purposes, both business and pleasure. For both, the user is expecting some level of privacy. However, many malicious parties and software can easily capture your private information, which will either cause you a lot of embarrassment or loss of money.
It is easy for individuals to get extremely comfortable while on the World Wide Web. Its use has become so much a part of our everyday lives that we are unable to see certain dangers unless of course we experience them first hand. Of recent, many are becoming victims of identity theft.
What is identity theft?
As the name implies, it is when an individual steals your identity. With your private information, the thief can impersonate you. He or she can open new accounts, shop online, take out loans and even commit crimes all under your name. However, until you have experienced it yourself you may not truly understand the consequences.
ID theft causes among other things a loss of the victims’ reputation.
- Inability to receive a loan
- Loss of savings
- Low credit score
- An arrest record
- Inability to obtain tenancy
- Inability to get Employment
Identity fraud becomes easy for the perpetrator once he or she gets their hands on your personal information. The valued information being sought by such thieves are your name, social security number, bank information, and credit card number, for example.
This can be accessed by rummaging through your garbage, if you are someone who throws out important documents without first shredding them. In addition, the person can simply steal your purse. This should give him or her access to your social security number, if you carry your card everywhere you go.
However, many such thieves would rather not have to encounter you. With your information so easily accessible on the Internet there really is no need. Much business is done on the World Wide Web, because of the convenience. Online shopping is on the increase, so is online banking. Both of which requires the use of your credit card number.
To prevent the theft of your identity, you should take certain precautions to keep your personal information protected. Fortunately, many of these tips are easy.
- Make sure that you are aware of the many types of scams that abound on the Internet. With this knowledge, you should be able to identify one easily, before becoming a victim.
- Examine credit card statements frequently. If there are any charges that you do not recognize you should query it immediately, no matter how small the sum.
- If your statement is late or missing from the mail, you should contact your credit card company.
- Do not throw away documents that may contain your credit card number, social security number or any such information, before first shredding them.
- Never relate your personal information over the phone, unless you initialed the call
- Someone can easily hack into your computer, therefore, never keep personal information on it.
- Ensure that you install anti-virus software on your computer. You should update your software regularly.
- Do not open emails from companies that you do not know or websites you did not sign up an account with. These phishing scams are usually easy to identify, as you will be asked to verify your personal information with claims that you will face certain consequences if you fail to verify.
Remember many websites online appear to be legitimate, even looking very similar to the company sites that they are mimicking.
- Shopping online is convenient, however, you must be careful. You may be asked to save your credit card information for easier shopping when next you visit the site. However, doing so would mean that your information would be stored on their computer.
- Also important is that you create difficult passwords. Passwords should preferable be long and include both numbers and letters.
Protecting your private information while online is simple. Once you use the tips mentioned above you should be able to work or play online without having to worry that potential thieves will easily access your information. However, if you practice all of the above yet still share your personal information with ‘friends’ and ‘followers’ on social media sites, you may still be leaving yourself vulnerable.