How to protect your identity while shopping and banking online

By: on 2013-02-07
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How to protect your identity while shopping and banking online
How to protect your identity while shopping and banking online

Researches reveal the fact that many people become victims of identity theft every year. However, you can protect your identity by keeping in mind certain things when you shop or bank online.

How to protect your identity online

It is known to everyone that you can experience a huge financial loss if your identity gets stolen. That is, some hacker accesses your online accounts by typing the password you've given to those accounts, for his/her own financial gain. First of all, you should install a good up-to-date antivirus program so that your computer and browser are well secured. Here are some other tips to protect your identity online.

Give strong passwords which are difficult to guess

There is no surety that your online accounts will be 100% safe and secured, yet you can take certain precaution by giving strong passwords which are difficult for hackers to guess.

Here are 5 tips to create strong and difficult passwords that usually scammers can't guess.

  1. Do not give passwords which are easy to guess

    This is the ground rule while trying to create a secured online presence. If a password is easy for you to remember, then it might be easy for the hackers to guess them, too.

    While giving out passwords, remember to not give ‘1234’, the word ‘password’ along with you, your spouse, or your children’s names. Likewise, also do not give easy dates, like your birthday, your anniversary day as numbers in your passwords. It is because anybody knowing you can easily guess the passwords.

    Even a person knowing you well, should not be able to guess what passwords you give to access your online accounts.

    If it is difficult for you to remember all the passwords, then store the information in a pen drive which you can keep in a secured place.

  2. Think about complicated and long passwords.

    Studies reveal that long passwords are difficult to crack. A hacker has to devote lot of time to guess long and complicated passwords. So, you might be saved as a hacker might devote his/her time in cracking simpler passwords than wasting his/her time on cracking long passwords

    Therefore, try to give passwords which are at least more than 10 characters. Moreover, always mix up numbers, special characters and alphabets with upper and lower cases, since passwords are usually case sensitive.

  3. Create an acronym to generate strong passwords

    By creating an acronym, you can create a strong password and also it’ll be easy for you to remember. It is basically a sentence and you take certain words and letters from that sentence to create a password.

    For example, you can pick up a phrase like “My daughter’s birthday is 31st January, 2002”. Using this phrase, you can create the password as “Mdbi31/J2”. Only you will know how to remember the password which will consist of alphabets in lower and upper cases, numbers, and also special characters (if permitted by the website).

  4. Always check your password’s strength

    A number of websites test your passwords’ strength. So, after you have selected a few passwords, check in these websites to find out which are the strongest passwords.

    They will let you know how long it will take to guess your password. Knowing this, you can easily figure out the strongest password in your list.

  5. No two passwords should be similar

    Even if you give difficult passwords, no two passwords should be similar. This is because, if a person is successful in getting one of your passwords, he/she may get access to your other account(s) too.

    If it is difficult to remember, write it in a document and make sure you password protect it too.

    Another trick is writing down some irrelevant numbers or letters in the prefix and suffix of your actual password so that only you can make out what your actual passwords are.

    Most importantly, just as you replace your old clothes with new ones periodically, you also need to change your old passwords with new ones at regular intervals. It is better if you change your important passwords after every 3 months, especially the passwords of your online bank accounts and other important accounts. Doing so, you can keep your online accounts relatively safe and can have a trouble free life.

Do not give obvious answers to security questions

If you give obvious answers to the security questions asked by the website while creating an online account, then you are actually making the tasks of hackers much easier. This is because when you type a wrong password and ask for another password, it is the security questions which help you get a new password.

So, think, a hacker knowing you and trying to access your account, might easily answer those questions and hack your account.

Therefore, instead of giving correct answers give incorrect answers which you will remember and it’ll be difficult for others to guess.

Two-factor authentication is a better option

You can give extra security to your account by setting up two-factor authentication on your Google account. By doing so, you'll be asked to enter another code, along with your password, which you can only get through a voice call or a text message.

Password-protect your mobile phone

Nowadays, mobile phones are just like computers. You can do almost anything and everything with your cell phone. It is also quite a common phenomenon to store personal information in the mobile phone more than your laptop, as a phone is much more handy option. So, always password-protect your phone so that no one can access your personal information even if your phone is stolen.

Do not give out all your information on social networking websites

If you give out all your personal details on social networking websites, then it'll be much easier for the hackers to figure out your passwords. This is because they'll know the answers of the questions asked in the password reset tools. So, keep some secret from your social networking profiles.

Protect your home wireless network connection

It has also become quite important to protect your home wireless network connection with a strong password. Also, change the default name of your network, the SSID. While connecting your laptop at a coffee shop through a public Wi-Fi, be careful of the information you're sending online.

6 Tips to follow while shopping online

There are several perks of shopping online. You can shop at the comfort of your home. You can pick and choose from a wide variety of products. What more, you can get great discounts on the items. However, it is equally true that there is high risk of being victimized by the scammers when shopping online. Cyber criminals just wait for a chance to get hold of your personal information so as to drain your checking account. Due to these reasons, it is essential to guard your confidential information when shopping online.

Take a look at these 6 tips that may help you preserve your personal information when shopping online.

  1. Keep your computer safe:

    The first tip will be to keep your computer safe from virus attacks. You should install the latest version of the anti-virus or anti-spyware in your computer.

    Make sure you scan your computer once in a week. This will help you keep your computer virus-free completely.

    It is advisable to purchase genuine anti-virus software from the shop. If you can't afford to buy a licensed version at present, then you can download a free version of a good anti-virus from a reliable website.

  2. Avoid lucrative offers in mails:

    If you receive unsolicited mails offering attractive shopping offers, then you should avoid going for those deals. You'll get these kinds of offers more during the holiday or festive season. But you should never accept such kind of offers.

    Cyber criminals often send these kinds of emails to the consumers. Once you click on the link sent to your mailbox and visit the website, the scammers can easily get hold of your password and confidential information. If you really want to visit the website, then you can type the URL manually.

  3. Visit the reliable shopping websites:

    It is best to shop from the reliable websites. If you come across any website which appears to be suspicious, then you should do research on the websites in the internet. Check whether or not the customers are satisfied with them. Find out if there are trustworthy seal marks on the website.

  4. Know about the privacy policy:

    Read the privacy policy of the shopping website. This will enable you know as to what information they are collecting about you. You can also know how they will use your confidential information..

  5. Use credit cards to purchase:

    It is advisable to use credit cards for making online purchases.

    This is because if you ever become a victim of fraud or identity-theft, then you charge back. You can report the matter to the credit card company.

    The company will investigate the matter after receiving the complaint. If it is proved that what you're claiming is true, then you won't have to pay the charge.

    However, it's always better to avoid being a victim. So, give out your credit card information only to secured websites. Before giving out your credit card details, check out whether or not there's a padlock icon next to the address.

  6. Create unique password:

    Check out the points already discussed earlier in this article.

Finally, you should check your online bank account or credit card bill statement on a regular basis. This way you can find out if there are any fraudulent charges on your bill. If you discover any kind of suspicious activity on your bill, then you should report the matter to the financial institution immediately.

6 Tips to follow while banking online

Online banking is undoubtedly an easier option to manage money in comparison to traditional banking transactions. With the help of online banking, you can just login and make your financial transactions without having to step out of your home. However, you need to take certain precautions so as to avoid being a victim of identity theft when you opt for online banking.

Make yourself aware of 6 tips to follow while banking online.

  1. Give passwords which are difficult to guess

    This is the most important thing. Please go through the discussion earlier in this article on how to create strong passwords that are difficult to guess.
  2. Opt for automatic identity-theft protection

    Many credit card companies offer automatic identity-theft protection. Whenever you find any wrong charges in your statement, make sure you bring it to the attention of your credit card company. It will investigate about the fraudulent charges on your behalf. However, you may have to pay an extra charge for such services.
  3. Avoid talking to cyber people you don't know

    You may get e-mails asking you to click on hyperlinks; by doing so, you may make your personal information accessible to cyber hackers.

    Even if you receive an e-mail from a known institution such as your bank, it is always better to go to your bank's website instead of clicking on the link from the mail.

    It is also advisable to not open suspicious attachments even from your friends; you never know, your friends' accounts may also have been hacked.

  4. Check account statements at regular intervals

    One of the greatest advantages of banking online is that you don't have to wait for the month end to check your account statement. You can check it whenever you feel like. So, it is advisable that you check your account statements at regular intervals and inform the bank immediately if you come across any discrepancy.
  5. Opt for online documents instead of paper documents

    It is always better to use online documents instead of paper documents. Apart from being safe, you can save the environment by opting to get financial statements through e-mails instead of getting paper documents.

    Even if you have to use paper documents, make sure you destroy them when you don't require them anymore.

    The scam artists often try to get clues from your bank statements and your other financial paperwork to steal your personal information for their own financial gain.

  6. Think before clicking any link

    It is easy to create a template which is almost similar with that of a bank; so, clicking on it will help the fraudsters to access even your online accounts. Also, beware before clicking on Facebook message links. Rarely friends upload links for you to view their photos. Similarly, do not click on links you get through a mail from unknown sender. Remembering this and acting wisely can save your identity from being stolen and save you from losing your valuable money.

In addition to above, never ever give out your SSN (Social Security Number) to anyone without verifying whether or not the organization is a reliable one. You may be rest assured that it is a scam if any website asks for it at the checkout process. In short, it can be stated that never ever give out your personal details if you're not sure whether or not it's safe to do so. Moreover, even if you become a victim of identity theft, report it fast so as to avoid hefty charges on your financial accounts.

Last Updated on: Thu, 7 Feb 2013

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