In 2019, roughly 1 in every 15 Americans was a victim of identity fraud. The total cost to those consumers was $1.9 billion.
Identity theft and other online scams can cost you a fortune, not to mention the time you spend getting things sorted out. Let’s look at 5 simple online safety tips that will help you prevent identity theft in the first place.
1. Watch for Phishing and Other Email Scams
One of the most common scams is what’s known as email phishing. Scammers send an email that looks like it comes from somewhere like your bank, Amazon.com, Apple, or other popular sites that you need to log into.
If you click the link in the email, you end up on a fake site that looks like the real thing. When you enter your login details, it goes straight to the scammer so they can log into your real account.
The best online scam prevention, in this case, is to pay attention to the website address you end up on. Make sure it is the real site and not another site made to look like it. For example, instead of apple.com, you could end up on apple.someothersite.com.
2. Use Strong Passwords
Another simple scan prevention technique is to use strong passwords for all websites and ideally, unique passwords on every site. For example, instead of something like your kids’ names or your birthday, use something like “88UFb7!M” that nobody could ever guess.
Password tools like LastPass and 1Password will help you keep track of all your unique, hard-to-guess passwords.
3. Double-Check Websites’ Security Credentials
Any website where you enter personal information or financial details should use the encrypted HTTPS protocol, not plain HTTP. The encrypted version ensures that if someone intercepted the information you sent, they wouldn’t be able to read it because it was encrypted.
If a site uses HTTPS, you’ll see a lock icon in the address bar of your web browser. Click on that lock to see details about the site so you can confirm the certificate matches the name of the website.
4. Don’t Share Too Much Personal Information
Between sites like Twitter and Facebook and all the other websites that have information about you, there’s a ton of data on the web for scammers to find. If they find a few details here and a few more there, they can gather a lot of details about you.
Be careful not to share too much information about yourself and double-check to make sure your social media accounts are only visible to people you feel comfortable with. You can also use a service like this site to monitor the web and send you alerts when it finds anything that could be risky.
Online Safety Should Be One of Your Top Priorities
With so much of our lives spent on the internet, it’s created a goldmine of information for scammers. Online safety should be one of your biggest concerns when you’re using the web.
The best way to approach it is to assume anything you share anywhere on the web is going to be public and will be there forever. Think about that the next time you’re about to share something.
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