Cyberspace is more popular than ever. In an effort to save money and gas, Internet usage for shopping, paying bills and research helps in those areas. But, even on the Internet, identity thieves lurk around for their next victim.
Learn to be safe on the Internet. Everyone in the world has access to the Internet and that quadruples your chances of coming into contact with a dishonest person. Use a few precautions so you don’t fall prey to their schemes.
1. Use passwords that are not easy to guess. The trouble with passwords is that we often forget them. You can use the same password for your online accounts but make it hard for anyone to guess. That rules out pet names, children’s names, nicknames and other words that a friend or family member could figure out.
2. Avoid making transactions on unsecured terminals and local Wi-Fi hotspots. Many places offer Wi-Fi signals these days but it is best to browse the Internet in these places and not perform more private transactions like checking email or bank accounts. Because it is unsecured, a third party could hack in and gain access to your passwords and hence, your accounts.
3. Shop with care. Check the security certificates of each site you do business with. If you don’t see a small closed lock in the top or bottom corner, it is not safe to enter personal information. PayPal is a favored online account for people doing business on eBay or businesses that sell from their websites. More and more sites are offering PayPal as a way to pay for your purchases. When paying this way, you only have to enter the email address associated with the account and you are redirected to their secure site to complete the transaction. No personal information is revealed by you.
4. Don’t share personal information in chat rooms or social networking sites like MySpace. These places are perfect targets for pedophiles and identity thieves. Online, you can pose as anyone to coax information out of kids as well as adults. Warn your children about all types of predators who may try to get vital family information out of them.
5. Delete SPAM. You could be opening a virus. Place high security measures on email accounts so only emails from known associates can get through. Everything else is directed to a bulk mail folder for you to check. Once a virus gets in your computer it can access your personal information for a third party.
6. Don’t download suspicious programs. Some sites on the Internet are set up to defraud people and get their personal information. If the site’s certificates can’t be verified don’t download it. This could be a criminal’s way of accessing your information.
The Internet opens up an entirely new world but it is one where you have to be smart to avoid becoming a victim.