Personal and financial information in the wrong hands can quickly disrupt a person’s life. Hackers and online criminals can utilize sensitive information to access someone’s bank account, obtain credit cards or loans in their name and potentially ruin the credit rating.
Safeguarding private information should be a concern for everyone — especially when people use so many devices and applications where they leave traces. Treat your personal information as you would treat your money — protect it and don’t leave it lying around.
Personal Information and Privacy
First of all, you need to be mindful of what kind of personal information you share online. Whenever you share your address, phone number, birthday and other personal information you are at a greater risk of identity theft. Social media is also a prime medium for cyber criminals to fish out personal information.
You need to think about what information you may have left a trace of online across multiple sites. Identity thieves can mix and match information from several public sources to piece together someone’s identity.
Be careful of how you store and share your sensitive information:
- Use strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone. Follow best practices for strong password creation and avoid using generic words. Don’t use pet or family names, since these are easy to guess for hackers.
- For additional security keep separate emails for shopping, communication and newsletters. In case of breach, the disruption will be limited to one of your activities.
- Share your primary email address only with people you know.
- Inspect and adjust your privacy settings on social networks to control the amount and type of information that is publicly visible.
Online, be mindful of your activity on websites and be on the lookout for signs of compromise:
- Check your billing and account records carefully to spot signs of potential identity theft.
- Do your due diligence before signing up to mailing lists.
- Don’t fill out online forms without inspecting and understanding why you need to share the information.
- Keep a record of what information you have given to whom.