At least around 80% of the things we do online, for instance banking, shopping, chatting with family and friends, or even making new friends, require us to inadvertently give out personal and financial information. It is important to realize that once it’s out there, it is impossible to gain it back entirely.
Here are a few tips for you to maintain your privacy:
- Use strong, unusual passwords and do not share them with anyone. A random combination of numbers, letters, characters etc. over eight characters long is suggested. Also, names of pets, loved ones, nicknames etc. are just too easy to guess. Avoid those. Additionally, do not use the same password for all your accounts. Having more than one password for online accounts is essential because if you kept one for all, if it is ever cracked, thieves will be able to gain access to all your private data at once.
- Check your billing and account records carefully and regularly to detect potential identity theft
- Have a separate email address for shopping and newsgroups. You can change this address at anytime without disrupting online business activities.
- Only share your primary email address with people you know and have important business with.
- Be careful when signing up to mailing lists – spammers use the unsubscribe button to validate addresses.
- Online forms can be tricky, so think twice before you fill one. Ask yourself about how much information this site needs. Is it really mandatory? If yes, why?
- Keep a record of what information you have given to whom, so that in case there is a situation, investigations can be carried out smoothly.
- Be careful how much personal information you post or reveal online.
- Users who share addresses, telephone numbers, birthdays, and other personal information put themselves at a greater risk of identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you post on your social media profiles (Facebook, Twitter etc).
- If you use social networking sites, adjust your privacy settings to control the amount and type of information you want to share so that people you don’t know very well can only see certain parts of your profile. It is best to exclude any and all important personal information from your social media profile.
- Think about what information you may have online that is spread across multiple sites. Identity thieves can piece together your identity from public information piece by piece like putting together a puzzle.
- Before entering payment details into any website, check the web address has an ‘s’ – which stands for secure – after the http. If it doesn’t, do not proceed.