How to Protect your Online Identity

IdentityTheftWith the evolution of the Internet, cyber criminals are always on the hunt to steal personal information for their benefit. As a matter of fact, every three seconds someone’s online information is stolen. There are a number of effective strategies to protect yourself against online identity theft.

Social Media Sites

With social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook, cyber criminals have easy access to personal information, such as date of birth and location. With this information, they can hack into other online accounts like bank accounts. Be sure to minimize the amount of personal details that you provide in your About Me section and check your social media privacy settings. For example, Facebook settings should be set to Friends Only for all posts for a more secure profile.

Phishing Emails

Spam email is getting more sophisticated today. Cyber criminals use company logos to look like the real deal. It’s important to never respond to these emails with password or account information. Most companies will not ask for personal information in an email, especially banks. If in doubt, call the company directly to confirm the legitimacy of the email. Even better, delete the email. In addition, keep a close eye on the payment history of your bank account.

Online Shopping with Credit Cards

When you’re making a purchase online, be sure to look for the lock symbol. This symbol is located in the browser status bar. The “https” in the address bar indicates that this is a secure connection. While it’s not an absolute guarantee of online security, it does lessen the risk of online identity theft. Another strategy for protecting your credit card is to use one-shot credit cards. With these types of transactions, the number received is only valid for one specific purchase.

Passwords

Always use strong passwords. Weak passwords are a gateway to online identify theft. In addition, using the same password everywhere can wreak havoc. Once the cyber criminal knows the password, it is easy to access all of your online accounts. Be sure to different passwords with lower and upper case letters along with symbols and numbers. It’s also wise avoid using pet names, birthdates and ages. In a nutshell, passwords should have nothing to do with your personal information.

Up-to-Date Security Software

When your computer or smartphone is infected with malicious software, even other safeguards are ineffective in protecting your online security. Online thieves have access to all of your online activities. Be sure to install security software and keep the operating system updated. This way the network is secure and you can avoid cyber criminals taking money out your account.

Today, even some banks are offering special services for protection against online identity theft. Belmont Savings Bank has partnered with a leading protection credit service known as IdentityForce. With this service, customers get continuous monitoring of personal information, instant notification of a breach, daily three-bureau credit monitoring reports and nationwide identity theft insurance up to $1 million.

This blog post is the opinion of Belmont Savings Bank and is not to be taken as financial or investment advice. For personal financial advice, please consult a financial advisor.