What is Identity Theft and how can someone’s identity be stolen? Simply put, identity theft is the use of another person’s name, Social Security number, or other personal information to make purchases, apply for credit, or commit fraud. Identities can easily be stolen through email, online applications, or accessing data from insecure devices. October is National Cyber Security Awareness Month, here are some tips to help protect you from becoming a victim of identity theft.
- Never open an email link from a bank, credit card company, or other institution that utilizes Financial data. If you receive and email that looks like it is from your bank or credit card provider, open the site directly in your web browser and access the notification section directly.
- Look closely at the sender’s email address. Often time, cyber criminals will create and email address that is similar, but not identical to, the company they are trying to mimic (such as PayPul instead of PayPal). If you do not recognize the address, or it seems a bit off, delete the email without opening it and contact the sender directly.
- Never send passwords, Social Security numbers, or other personal information in an email. Think of an email as a postcard, the information is open and available to anyone who might seen the email, not just the person you intended it for.
- Never enter Financial information or complete a purchase on a website that is not secure. A secure website will begin with “https” instead of “http”. If you attempt to access a site and receive an insecure warning, contact the merchant or business directly to make them aware of the issue.
- Use a secure browser such as Mozilla Firefox or Google Chrome. Internet Explorer has a number of documented security flaws and is a popular target for hackers due to its broad use.
- When using a public computer, always be sure to log out of any website you access and fully close the browser. As an additional measure, you can clear the browser’s cache and cookies to ensure the information you entered is not held on the server.
- When using public Wi-Fi, avoid accessing Financial sites that require you to log in, and do not enter Financial information.
- Avoid using the same password for accessing different sites, and create a secure password by using a combination of capital and lower case letters, symbols, and a number. Do not use sequential numbers or letters.
Following the above practices will help you stay safe online, and help prevent your information from falling into the wrong hands.