Crime is as old as time, but it’s taken on a new face with the rise of technology. These days, you have to protect your personal information on two fronts: online and offline.
The fact is there are numerous ways someone can get your information. To prevent hacking, you need to employ safety measures. Start with these essential tips for online and offline protection.
1. Opt for Two-Factor Authentication
Two-factor authentication is a simple technique – but it’s a strong and trusted safeguard against identity theft.
When you sign into a site with two-factor authentication, you first enter your username and password. Next, the site sends a one-time verification code to your phone or email. You need to enter that code to complete your log-in.
This doesn’t take much extra time and can make a big difference because a hacker would need your log-in information for the site as well as your phone or email.
Many sites offer two-factor authentication as a security option. At a minimum, you should choose this option for any financial accounts or accounts with sensitive information.
2. Make Every Password Unique
A common shortcut people take is using the same password for several sites and accounts. This may make it easy to remember, but if a hacker gets your password for one site, they have your password for everything.
Instead, use a unique password for every account you have and make those passwords complex.
They should include numbers, lowercase and uppercase letters, and special characters.
Of course, you won’t be able to remember all these complicated passwords. To keep track, consider using an online password manager. You could also put all your log-in information into a password-protected document or folder.
3. Set Rules for Public Wi-Fi
Public wi-fi might be a great way to take care of work or tasks wherever you are. There are certain sites you shouldn’t visit on pubic wi-fi, though.
There are tools that allow hackers to “spy” on the online activity of everyone using the same wi-fi network they’re using. And there is no way to know if someone is watching and tracking your activity.
For that reason, avoid visiting sites that have financial or personal information while using public wi-fi. On that same note, always secure your home’s wi-fi with a password.
4. Know When to Shred
You’d be surprised how much valuable information a hacker could get by digging through your trash. And yes, this is something that actually happens.
Be careful not to throw away anything with identifying information. That includes anything with your name, date of birth, address, or any financial information on it. Shred these documents instead.
5. Watch Your Posts With Personal Information on Social Media
You might think of social media as a way to keep in touch with friends and family. Identity thieves think of it as a gold mine.
There are certain pieces of information you should never share on social media or anywhere online for that matter.
For example, if you go out of town, wait to post about it until you return home. If you’re advertising that you’re out of town, you’re telling thieves that your home is empty and ready to be ransacked.
It’s also not a good idea to post about any cash windfalls because it could make you a target. Be sure not to post any of your identifying information either, like your address, date of birth, or even your email address. Any of that information could be a gateway to a hacker who knows how to use it.
6. Be Link-Cautious
So many devastating hacks have started with a single click. A general rule of thumb is to never click on a link if you don’t know the source or where it goes.
Your email inbox is an especially dangerous space. If you get an email with a link or attachment you didn’t expect or don’t recognize, don’t open it. If it comes from someone you know, it’s better to contact that person to make sure the email is safe and ensure your friend’s email hasn’t been hacked.
If you see a link that looks suspicious, it’s better to go online and go to that site on your own rather than clicking on the link. If you see an email attachment that ends with .exe, be especially careful not to click on it unless you know what it is. These files are programs and could be viruses or malware.
7. Install Updates When They Appear
Every so often, you’ll see that your phone, web browser, operating system, or program may have an update available. It’s important to install these updates promptly or set your devices to auto-update.
Many times, these updates are focused on patching security holes that have been found within the program or device. If the developers know about the security hole, it’s likely that hackers know about it too. Installing these patches promptly will help you avoid those security risks.
8. Keep Your Eye Out
Identity protection isn’t just about preventing identity theft. It’s about catching hacks as early as possible so you can keep the damage to a minimum.
A critical way to do this is to keep a watchful eye on all your financial accounts including bank accounts, credit cards, and more.
Go through them every week or so to make sure you recognize all the transactions. If there are any charges you don’t recognize, dispute them and put a hold on that card until you can verify whether your information was stolen.
Easy Steps to Protect Your Personal Information.
You’ll notice that all of the tips above are small, simple changes can make a world of difference in preventing identity theft and maintaining your online security. That’s because prevention is the best way avoid a long and difficult process of going through identity theft or similar.
We hope these tips are helpful and keep you safe. For more topics about personal finance, check out the rest of our blog (add link).
For more tips, check out our other blog posts.