With a username and password, you can do almost anything online these days. Banking, shopping, file storage – we do more things electronically than ever before. It is a convenient way of life, yet a potentially risky one, so protecting your identity online is critical.
Your personal information – account numbers, phone numbers, social security numbers and birthdays – are constantly being stored, accessed, and transferred between devices and data points under the control of third parties. That’s right; your personal information is not your own. But the good news is, there are steps you can take to protect your identity as you spend time online.
Use Different Passwords
If you have ever registered for online banking, a social media account, and an email address, then you already have three sites that require a username and password. Many people choose the same logins for every website, because it is difficult to remember so many passwords – especially if it isn’t a site you visit regularly.
The downside to doing this is you set yourself up for identity theft. If a criminal figures out your username and password for one site and you use the same credentials on other sites, then they can just as easily access your other accounts.
To protect your identity online, create unique passwords for all of the sites where you are registered. You should also change your passwords every few months to keep your personal information safe.
Keep Bank Credentials to Yourself
While there are many websites that make it easier for you to plan and budget your finances, some of them may ask you to share login credentials for your online bank account. This can be risky because some banks may not cover loss if your account information is stolen from a third-party website. Your best bet is to keep your credentials to yourself, so you can eliminate the chances of identity theft.
Check Your Credit Score
One of the best ways for protecting your identity online is to check your credit score. Even if you haven’t noticed any suspicious activity recently, checking your score can tell you the whole story. Credit reports can alert you to changes in credit accounts, collections, and closed accounts you may not be aware of at the moment. Do a check once or twice a year, and contest anything that looks incorrect.
You don’t have to sacrifice the conveniences of online banking, shopping, or sharing. You just have to take a few extra steps to safeguard your information and make sure your online experiences are truly your own.