It seems like just yesterday, people were hesitant to shop online. The mere suggestion to give our credit card information over a computer freaked everyone out. These days, things have drastically changed.
With social media, we’re eager to give up every single detail of our private lives without a second thought, but are you giving too much away? Here are four ways that you’re making it really simple for someone to steal your identity.
Using your credit card to order anything online is always a huge risk. There are a ton of websites out there that aren’t secure, so make sure to only order things from a reputable company. If they get hacked and credit card numbers are accessed, by law, the company has to inform your bank, who will then inform you. The safest way to use a debit card online is to use pre-paid Visa cards. You can verify a site’s security by looking near the bottom of the site, generally secured sites will have a seal that ensures it’s safe to do business with.
If you aren’t careful with your documents, you’re setting yourself up to have your identity stolen. Do you immediately throw away pre-approved credit card offers? You shouldn’t, they sometimes contain your social security number on them. What about your bills? Someone else could potentially have your account number, full name, address, phone number, and other information. Instead of simply discarding these items, invest in a paper shredder and destroy any and all documents that contain your personal information. It’s also possible to burn or compost this material, making it less likely anyone will ever get their hands on it.
You were born in New York. Your mother’s an HR representative at a Fortune 500 company and your Dad’s a captain of a luxury sea-liner. You majored in Liberal Arts in College, but you’re currently a bartender. Your birthday’s coming up. I think I’ll buy you the latest Quentin Tarantino movie, I know they’re your favorite. I’ll text you and wish you an early happy birthday, even though you never gave me your number. I also need to go ahead and send out a birthday card so it gets there on time, even though you never gave me your address. How do I know all of this? Because you accepted my Facebook friend request.
Without realizing it, you make your social profile a goldmine for identity thieves. Make sure you’re fully aware that every piece of information you put online can and probably will be accessed by someone else. Adjust privacy settings so only friends can see your information. With so many different types of id theft, you can never be too careful.
Public Wi-Fi spots may seem great, especially in areas that have a ton of traffic, but resist the temptation. Public Wi-Fi spots are unsecured, and you should assume anything that you transmit over a public Wi-Fi, including any passwords and credit card numbers that you enter. If you must use public Wi-Fi, you can install a virtual private network (VPN) on your device to secure your data. It’s also possible to use your smartphone to tether your own wireless internet, giving you your own personal hotspot.
This article may seem like it’s trying to feed off of paranoia, but this is the reality of the situation. In this day and age, identity thieves are everywhere. They’re constantly adapting to the changes people make to their behavior and as long as there are people out there making mistakes with their internet purchases, they’ll be waiting to go after the weakest of the lot. The simplest way is to be proactive in protecting your information. Have you or anyone you know ever been a victim of a identify theft? Tell us about it.