How to Prevent: Identity Theft on Social Networks & More
Internet users are always at risk of having their identity stolen. Whether it’s from the sites they browse or the applications they download, a thief will always find an entry point. Many security flaws exist, and most are due to personal ignorance, so read these tips to get a better idea on how you can prevent identity theft online.
60) Get an effective anti-virus program
It’s easy to become the victim of identity theft if your computer gets infected with a virus. In fact, if it’s a keylogger, the attacker could read every single keystroke you make. Free anti-virus programs like AVG, Bitdefender, Malwarebytes, and Panda are all trustworthy. Look for reviews and check the specific features each offer, then download one onto your PC. This will come in handy when trying to prevent identity theft on social networks as you will be protected from clickbait viruses.
61) Clean your desktop and inbox periodically
Many of us are guilty of letting e-mails pile up, and forgetting about old documents and images on our desktop. Most of the time this is just innocent laziness, but sometimes it creates a serious security risk. You never know when or how your computer will get compromised, so you should do all you can to keep it safe. Any super sensitive data that must last a while can get stored on a USB stick or alternate hard drive. As for sensitive messages in your inbox, you must also make sure to check your ‘Sent’ messages during your clean up.
62) Download OpenDNS and use Phishtank
OpenDNS works to boost your Internet speed by taking over the page detection and load process that your Internet service provider usually does. Further, the Phishtank function allows you to block out phishing websites. If a website is considered dangerous, a warning page will be presented to you. This is perfect for trying to prevent identity theft on social networks where you will often find yourself hopping off-site to view news stories from websites you’ve never visited.
63) Use the Web of Trust to check an online retailer’s trustworthiness
Some online stores are easy to trust (Amazon, Wal-Mart, etc.) while others are more of a coin flip. But, that should not stop you from finding the best deals and all the items that you want. You can use the Web of Trust (WoT) to determine whether an online store is trustworthy. This is perfect for Chrome users, as there is a downloadable plugin that automatically shows the reputation rating for each website you visit.
64) Don’t use your credit card online
The absolute best way to avoid identity theft on the Internet is to just never enter your credit card details for any reason. This can be difficult, because most online stores offer few payment options. But, you can always upload funds to PayPal from your bank to buy off the majority of reputable shops. Further, alternative payment methods like Google Wallet and Bitcoin can serve as effective ways to pay without giving up your credit card numbers.
65) Be cautious on social media
Many make the mistake of divulging too much personal identifying information over their social media accounts. Even worse, some do not have the appropriate security measures in place to ensure only their real connections can see what they share. A horrible example of this was the ‘Paycheck Selfies’ incident that caused numerous identity theft attacks in previous years. So, make sure you are careful not to give out too much about yourself. Further, tighten the privacy settings of your accounts to help prevent identity theft on social networks.
66) Make sure your wireless network is secure
An open network is like an open door with no one home, it just leaves you begging for a hacker to come in and steal your identifiable credentials. Make sure you secure your network, such as with WPA encryption. Make it password protected with a complex password, consisting of various letters, numbers, and special characters. This will greatly reduce the risk of an outside attack on your network, which could make all the difference in keeping yourself safe from identity theft.
67) Stay away from file sharing networks
Peer-to-peer file sharing networks might be convenient, but they should be avoided for safety reasons. It’s possible that you download an infected file, which could allow the attacker to access all your documents and images. If anything sensitive is there, this could potentially cause you to become the victim of identity theft.
68) Make use of OnGuard Online
The United States government offers a website that discusses how to best protect yourself and your children on the Internet. This is called OnGuard Online and it includes endless information on common scams, identity theft tricks, computer viruses, and much more. It is a great resource if you want to get a better idea on how to stay safe from identity theft; this is also a good source of information to provide your kids when they become regular Internet users.
69) Avoid opening sketchy messages
A spam mail is usually easy to identify, but sometimes they can get a little tricky. If there are any attachments and you do not know the sender, then avoid opening them on your computer. It’s easy for the sender to track you through the image’s ‘meta data’ and this could reveal identifying information about you. One of the biggest parts of knowing how to avoid identity theft through your social accounts is knowing how to spot such messages and posts. Be careful and take the time to comprehend what anyone sends or shares to you, then open it once you feel safe.
70) Set up a Google alert
You never know when your accounts become compromised. Sometimes the information ends up dumped on a random hacking forum. By setting up a Google alert with your e-mail address, you will be able to find out if your information ever gets shared.
71) Avoid online payday loan services
There are many payday loan websites that were just set up as information grabbers. Some later post the entire details of their registrants on the Internet. This includes information like your full name and mailing address. Not only could the payday loan company end up stealing your identity, but other criminals could also end up accessing the information.
72) Be careful on other people’s computers
When you use your own computer, you have full control over the security layers that are in place. This is not the case when using someone else’s computer, whether it’s a friend’s or one at an Internet cafe. As such, you need to be extra cautious about the accounts you access and the information you enter.
Just use common sense; don’t do your online shopping at a library, always delete cache, cookies, and history when you are done, and etc. To prevent identity theft triggered by information gathered from your accounts on social networks, you might want to avoid logging in from foreign devices.
73) Be cautious when clicking links to viral blogs
Viral websites are a dime a dozen and you just never know when one will redirect you to a fraudulent page. This could be a loop-around to a Facebook phishing site, or the website could auto-install a browser hijacker, and so on. It’s cool to see all the different viral stories on Facebook, but your best bet is to avoid most of them. There are a few that are trusted, such as Buzzfeed, but you will have to be selective to ensure you prevent identity theft when browsing social network feeds.
74) Be cautious of social media apps
There are many apps on websites like Facebook and Twitter that are either fun or helpful to use. While most are fine, there are still a couple that will gain access to your social media account for fraudulent purposes. As such, you must keep an eye on what type of privileges you are giving the app when you attach it to your social media account. Sometimes you can avoid certain settings, such as by selecting the ‘Not Now’ option when Facebook apps request the right to post AS YOU on your page.
75) Be smart when choosing passwords
It’s important to understand that the passwords you choose will have a serious impact on your Internet safety. This goes much further than just how complex of a password you choose for your important accounts. Further, you need to make sure that you do not use the same password for all of your accounts. For example, you might sign up at a gaming forum that gets hacked and your e-mail and other accounts could end up compromised as a result.
76) Try to avoid password managers
It’s really convenient to just let your browser remember all your different passwords. Yet, no one really knows how safe these password managers are and it’s a subject that’s certainly up for debate. That said, there are no immediate worries but if something like the ‘Heartbleed bug’ happened again, you never know how well your password manager’s encryption will hold up.
77) Always monitor your child’s online activity
You do not just have to worry about your identity getting stolen because of your child downloading infectious files. If your child browses the Internet, he or she might also make the mistake of sharing too much about themselves. This could create disastrous situation, so you should censor certain websites to keep them safe. You can buy parental software to have maximum control over your child’s Internet use and safety. Further, you will need to advise your child on the importance of preventing identity theft and how their social media use can impact their safety.
78) Use two-factor authentication
It’s recommended that you use two-factor authentication to keep your accounts as safe and secure as possible. There are many services that offer this, but one of the easiest to use is GAuth Authenticator from Google. This service makes it so that you have to verify through a second factor, such as by entering a code sent by text to your phone. This creates a further layer to keep hackers out of your accounts, and while it’s not bulletproof, it works great.
79) Educate yourself online
The Internet is a great resource for information about identity theft and how it can be prevented. You can find endless educational videos on YouTube, informative posts such as on Elite Personal Finance, and even discussions about identity theft on online forums. Take a few minutes of time to search the Web for answers to any questions you might have.