Today, life is increasingly lived online. It’s possible to pay bills, trade stocks and buy groceries from the comfort of home. However, with the prevalence of identity theft, everyone’s putting their financial data at risk. Below are several tips to use online to protect financial information and other sensitive data.
Only Buy From Trusted Sites
When a deal seems too good to be true, it probably is—and it can be costly in terms of data theft. Many small online sellers don’t have secured payment systems, and the best way for a customer to protect his or her information is to stick with larger online retailers or use a payment processor like Google Checkout or PayPal. No matter which site a buyer uses, they should look for the padlock icon in the browser bar to ensure that the page is secure.
Get a Copy of the Credit Report
A person’s credit report can give them valuable insights into the security of their financial information. The Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 requires the major credit bureaus to provide a free credit report each year, and these reports can tell a person whether new accounts have been opened in their name.
Spot Phishing Attempts
Some identity thieves get sensitive information by masquerading as a trusted site. These phishing schemes work because they trick users into believing they’re signing into a legitimate site, but users can prevent phishing by checking the site’s URL and not providing extra information during sign-in.
Secure Wireless Networks
If a user has WiFi at work or at home, it should be secured. Hackers can gain access to everything done over unsecured networks, but today’s wireless routers make it easy to encrypt information. Securing the network won’t affect the way it’s used, but it can keep hackers from stealing sensitive information.
Ditch the Spam
Users should be wary of junk emails. Not only are these sent from phishers, they can contain viruses that steal information and send it back to the thieves. If possible, install a spam filter or ask an ISP for one.
Unfortunately, identity theft is becoming more common, and people are afraid to use their own computers to access financial data. However, it’s possible to do transactions online without putting that data at risk. By following these tips, users can secure their info and stay safe from identity theft.