How to protect your online identity

We all have an image of what identity fraud entails; whether it’s the hooded, black figure rifling through your dustbin or a more sophisticated, organised crime we’ve all considered the dangers of identity fraud. From stealing a credit card to an elaborate money laundering system identity fraud can take many forms; over the last few years it has increasingly taken the form of an anonymous online figure. We have compiled a few tips to try and help you protect yourself and your identity online.

Create strong passwords

We all know how much of a hassle it is to create a new account of any kind online. From your mother’s maiden name to the name of your first pet, it seems as though websites want to know everything about you. Although it may feel like a hassle to divulge a lot of sensitive information to Facebook and Twitter, it’s all to keep you safe online. While it’s inconvenient to have to remember a password containing upper case letters, numbers and symbols it is even more inconvenient to people wanting to steal your identity. If your password contains your surname, town or birthday it is extremely easy for identity thieves to hack into your account. However, if it contains an ampersand and an asterisk it makes the identity thief’s job a lot more difficult.

Be aware of the information you share

In this vain, and because websites do ask for a lot of personal information from you as a form of identification, it is important to keep this information to yourself. If you start sharing your birthday and the name of your firstborn child online it becomes increasingly easier for people to steal your online identity. Be aware of your online privacy settings and who you’re sharing your information with online.

Protect your smartphone

These days, it seems as though everyone and their Grandma has a smartphone. While they do make life easier in some ways, they also make online identity fraud easier. There are a million security settings on your phone that you aren’t even aware of; there are also a large numbers of applications trying to access your phone’s data. Most of these applications are harmless, such as GPS, but some are not. The easiest way to protect your phone is with a password-protected screen lock. That way, if anyone does get their hands on your phone, they won’t be able to access any data instantly. A second way to protect your online identity is to not save login details and passwords to your phone or computer. Being able to instantly log in to your accounts may make life easier for you, but it also makes online identity theft easier for hackers.