The internet has become the biggest source of learning, sharing information and communication these days. At the same time, there are many hackers and thieves who use internet to steal private personal information of other people. Billions of dollars are stolen every year over the internet. Identity theft is a hi-tech crime which has been growing at an alarming pace all across the world.
Hackers are devising new ways for committing these crimes. They have their own innovative ways to get access to your personal details, and they can easily obtain your personal or financial data, if you do not have the appropriate security processes in place to protect yourself from these crimes.
Shopping online is nothing new and most of us buy products for our everyday use through the internet, by using credit or debit cards. This is one of the many ways in which a big percentage of cyber crime is committed every single day. Thus, it is important that you buy products from genuine and secured websites.
You can minimize the risk of being a victim of identity theft by choosing to take a few simple precautions which you can read about below.
A Phishing website is basically a fake website which presents itself as an authorized business website. These websites will always look for the username and password, and sometimes even for your address, social security number and personal information too. Be alert when any of the sites asks for the information like
Credit card number
Bank account number
SSN (Social security number)
Health insurance information or ID
Drivers license number
In order to know whether the site is the real (legit) website or not, you could go to the organization's contact web page, note down their telephone number and call them directly. Key loggers, backdoors and some other nefarious programs can gain entry into your system without you not knowing anything about it until it's far too late.
You can prevent this by installing both anti-malware and anti-virus. Besides, some of the vendors are providing solutions, which consist of both. You could use open DNS, which speeds up your internet connection in a great way. This is designed with content filtering solution, which alerts you while visiting the dangerous websites.
When viewing emails be sure to hover over links and look at them closely. If the address looks funny, do not click it. Many phishers attempt to make the domain address look legit, such as http://www.amazon-customerservice.com, or even amazon-com.com. Be sure that the .com matches with the actual website!
Strong and Unique Passwords
You could create strong passwords mixed up with letters and numbers, and even other characters such as underscores, dashes, etc. Never form your password with your date of birth, phone numbers and credit card numbers, as this puts you at risk. Also be sure to mix uppercase and lowercase if possible. Try not to repeat numbers or letters either.
It is easy for the criminals to hack your accounts with these types of passwords. For this reason you need to create a unique password and try to change it frequently. Never repeat your passwords on other accounts too, as this makes it easily accessible for experienced hackers to take over those accounts.
Shopping online is an amazing experience for most of us, as you don't have to sit in line waiting for other people to finalize their purchases. But not every shopping site is safe. Make sure that the website you choose to purchase from is legit and safe. Do some research if it's not a known brand! This is just another other way through which criminals obtain all your personal information along with the credit card number.
You must be cautious while choosing a website for shopping online, as the number of fake websites have skyrocketed over the years. You could always choose the reputed websites for online shopping by doing some quick research via Google. You can find information on these sites by putting the domain with quotes around it ("amazon.com") and seeing how many results come up at the top left hand side of your screen. If it's a low number (not in the millions), you want to do more research. You may even find ratings on Google or Yelp.
Monitoring Your Credit
Try to check your credit report regularly to see if there is any fraudulent activity. Using services such as CreditKarma, Credit.com, CreditSesame or other monitoring services will help you keep a close eye of what's going on with your credit report.
You could also activate fraud alerts in order to save yourself from being a victim to identity theft. You can do this within the settings area of any of the services mentioned earlier, and they are 100% free. Review your bills and bank statements regularly to make sure that there are no fraudulent purchases.
Browsing The Web
Never trust emails or pop-ups that have headlines such as ‘you have won a prize’ as they will ask you to click on certain links to claim your prize. Once you click on these links, it will ask for your personal information. This is just another way the hackers can easily acquire your personal details.
If your wireless network is not secured, or if it is left open without a password, hackers will not only use your network, but also view all your web usage. So, in order to prevent your identity from being stolen you will also need to protect your wireless network with a strong password.
You will need to download software reputable websites. In case you download games, screen savers, torrents, or anuthing else from the unknown or non-trustworthy sites, they may contain Trojans and back doors, which your anti-virus may not spot. So try to avoid downloading from such websites and keep updating your anti-virus frequently.
Do not sign up for any websites that don't seem legit or are not well known. Just because it says your friend signed up doesn't mean that they have. You can be fooled easily these days if you're not careful!