How to Safeguard Online Identity from Theft

Summary: Technology especially internet has been a boon for humankind and brings everyone together like never before. We rely on the Internet as a personal assistant, postman, banker, librarian and retailer all rolled into one. There seems to be no limit to what you can do over it — buy stuff, pay your bills, check your bank statements, transfer money, trade in shares etc. With these facilities comes the threat of online identity theft. The only way you can minimize these risks is by staying vigilant and cautious. This article helps you with steps that could guide you to a safer online presence and help you safeguard your online identity.

The first lady of the United States, Michelle Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, FBI director Mueller and Los Angeles police chief Charlie Beck have something in common. They all had their personal information stolen by an online thief. They are not the only high profile people who suffered from the hands of online thieves, but celebrities like Beyonce, Jay Z and Ashton Kutcher. They all had their personal information, bank details, SSN etc. available online. If it can happen to them, could it happen to you?

With extensive use of internet for everything, online identity theft has become the newest form of crimes that happen everyday, all over the world and it happens to all types of people. It involves unauthorized use of your name and personal details to either steal from you, or commit a crime in your name. The only way to be protected is to be aware and make consistent efforts to monitor your accounts and information.

As consumers, you have little ability to stop or prevent identity theft. However, there are some positive steps to take which will decrease your risk. Here are some tips to protect and prevent identity theft online:

1) Keep a watch for phishing sites: Phishing websites are fake sites masquerading as legitimate business websites. Their whole and sole purpose is gathering your personal information like your name, number, address and other personal information. Be vigilant if a site asks for the following information:

· Usernames

· Passwords

· Bank account numbers

· PINs (Personal Identification Numbers)

· Credit card number

· Bank account number

· Driver’s license number

· Home address and phone number

· Health insurance id or information

· Your mother’s maiden name

· Your birthday

2) Keep your machine secure: One of the best ways to protect yourself from cyber crime is installing both anti-virus and anti-malware. This will help protect your computer from intruders looking for your personal information. Backdoors, key loggers and other nefarious programs can allow entry to your system and they can be installed in any number of ways.

3) Be smart with your passwords: It is very important to maintain password security across all online accounts as criminals may obtain your personal information is by logging into your email and other online accounts and glean information from there. It is always advisable to use strong passwords that are a combination of upper and lower case letters, numbers and symbols. It also helps when you have different passwords for different sites in stead of having a common one. To prevent unauthorized users from getting into your accounts, one should not enable a login screen to save password and remember to log off when leaving a secured site.

4) Use reputed sites for online shopping: It is very easy set up a site overnight and there’s no dearth of fly-by-night operators waiting to take your money and scoot. It is, therefore, always a good idea to buy from reputed shopping sites. Also ensure that these sites are secure sites, as a secure site encrypts or scrambles your personal information during transit across the Web to prevent unscrupulous persons from accessing it and using it fraudulently. One way of identifying a secure site is to look for a small padlock icon that appears on the bottom right-hand corner. Else, Take a look at the address bar: a secure site starts with ‘https://' (with an additional ‘s’, instead of the usual ‘http://').

5) Use social media to interact not divulge personal information: Over sharing on can lead to dangerous situations. It leads to a lot of people having access to your information that you may not be aware of and because of that you can expose yourself to people that you might not want to associate with.

6) Secure your wireless network: Always secure your wireless network with WPA encryption and a password. An unsecure network allows the attacker to use your network without your knowledge and also view your website usage. This can allow them to easily build a detailed profile of you (and your family) and the websites you visit. Though all sites have some personal information like credit card numbers encrypted, most of them do not have the same facility for login information. Just the website names alone can help give attacker information about you.

7) Use reputed sources for software download: Always run software that come from known sources as you might end up downloading backdoors and trojans that your antivirus may or may not catch along with the software.

About iCrederity

iCrederity is a leading provider of employee screening and background verification services to prevent identity and credential fraud through a verification and certification program, enabling individuals and businesses of integrity to stand apart while safeguarding them against fraud. iCrederity provides a comprehensive suite of essential HR services through its Employee Lifecycle Management platform. For more information, log on to www.icrederity.com/india or write an email to media@crederity.com.

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