10 ways to protect yourself from online identity theft

Identity theft is becoming a huge problem as more people are making the Internet a bigger part of their lives. People who are new to the online medium often fall prey to phishing or other Internet identity theft schemes. In many cases the phishing party uses your credit card to order goods for themselves; they will apply for credit cards, set up bank accounts, and take advantage of your good credit rating. Correcting these issues involves a lot of time and energy.

Tip #1

Use a disposable email account. Keep your business or personal email account just for business or personal communication. If you are going to make purchases online, join newsgroups, or subscribe to mailing lists and ezines use a disposable email account such as Hotmail or Gmail.

Tip #2

Disguise your online identity. If your real name in Joe Bloggs try to avoid using email accounts with name like jbloggs@example.com when dealing with people you don’t know and trust. If you were born in 1970 don’t choose jbloggs1970@example.com as your email account.

Tip #3

Use different level passwords. Use one password for your personal information; use another for your business accounts and a third for your disposable email accounts or mailing lists you sign up for.

Tip #4

Use strong passwords. Don’t use your birthdates, year you were married, or your children’s birthdates. The best passwords are mnemonic phrases like “My father ate three apples for breakfast”. Take the first letter of each word and convert the number into numbers and you end up with mfa3a4b.

Tip #5

You should change your passwords every 6 to 12 months. If you suspect your passwords have been compromised change them ASAP.

Tip #6

Use only one credit card for all of your online purchases. If any of your other credit cards have online transactions you know they are fraudulent. If you see offline purchases for your online credit card you also know they are fraudulent.

Tip #7

Use credit cards. While many debit cards now offer online purchase protection it’s easier to dispute fraudulent charges than to recover debit card funds that have already been spent.

Tip #8

Make sure online transactions are secure. If this is your first purchase from the company make sure the issuing company is someone you have heard of.

Tip #9

Check privacy policy. When you make your first transaction make sure you check the privacy policy, look for logos from consumer groups like Trust-E and the BBB. Click the logos to make sure they are authentic.

Tip #10

Never open or fill out email requests to update your account or credit card settings via email. These are phishing scams people use to try and secure your personal information. Many are growing increasingly sophisticated and go to great lengths to look exactly like the companies website using their exact logo.