I do a lot of shopping online, as a matter of fact I take care of many things online. Manage my bank account, pay bills, stay in contact with friends and family and get information I’m looking for on anything and everything. There is a lot of info on the web, and you want to make sure that yours stays secure.
We are fast approaching the holiday shopping season and there will be more reasons for you to conduct transactions online. For some of you, this may be the first year you make a purchase online.
Luckily, I have never had to deal first hand with identity theft, or having purchases made that weren’t mine but I do have family and friends that have had to take care of the mess that left behind! It can be very scary and quite a nuisance to handle.
Here are some quick tips and things to consider to help keep your personal information safe while conducting business online.
Make Your Passwords Very DifficultYou would think this would be a no brainer, but many people make their passwords something as simple as their pets name, or their birthday. It’s not hard for a identity thief to figure this out. There are programs out there that they use that can quickly go through various words, phrases and digits. You should create a password that is a good mixture of letters (capital and lowercase) numbers and special characters.
The following would be a good example of a hard password to figure out. J8h!ut6Y$
Keep Passwords Different For Each Account And Change Them OftenYou don’t want all of your accounts having the same passwords. If your email/ password is compromised and it’s the same as your bank account and credit card accounts, then you can easily have some trouble become of those accounts as well. Change your passwords often. If it helps, you can write them down in a notebook and keep them locked away in a safe or other place you keep your valuables hidden.
Use Prepaid Cards For PurchasesTo keep your credit cards and bank accounts safe, use prepaid cards to make your purchases online. You can keep whatever amount you would like on them and will have the piece of mind that they are not attached to your personal bank account or credit cards.
Pay Close Attention To Giving Out Your SS#There may be many places online that ask for the last four of your SS#. Many people feel safe giving out this info since it’s only four numbers. But keep in mind that identity thieves can find out a lot with just those last four numbers, and it isn’t hard for them to figure out your full social considering the first 3 digits of your social pertain to the area in which you were born or where the number was applied for. So always make sure it is absolutely necessary before giving out any form of your SS#.
Keep A Watch On Your Credit ReportDid you know that you have access to your Credit Report for FREE once a year? If you go to annualcreditreport.com you can request your credit report once a year. Monitor your report often so that you can be aware of any changes, open accounts that you don’t recognize or requests to see your report from a company that you aren’t familiar. If you notice items like this, make sure to dispute them with that credit reporting agency. It is also helpful to put a fraud alert on your account as well.
The top 3 credit reporting agencies are:Equifax
Each of those sites can tell you more about how you can protect your credit and report any errors you find. Got any other suggestions to protect your identity and credit online? Leave them in the comments below!