According to statistics compiled by www.identitytheft.info, more than 15 million Americans experience identity theft each year. And many of these incidents involve some form of online identity theft.
A more troubling statistic is that many Americans feel they are taking the proper online security precautions when in fact they are not. For example, 62% of those polled in a recent survey thought anti-virus software alone was enough to sufficiently protect them from identity theft.
The fact many are under-informed when it comes to the realities of identity theft leaves them open for just such a crime. But there’s no reason people should fall victim to online identity theft when there are so many precautions people can make to safeguard themselves against it.
Tips To Avoid Online Identity Theft
Avoid phishing websites always
These scam business websites are setup with the sole purpose of stealing people’s vital personal information. Oftentimes phishing websites are searching for account passwords and address information. But many times the sites are looking for more vital info, such as:
- Credit card numbers
- SSI numbers
- Bank accounts
- Driver’s license information
- Health insurance ID
Any unsolicited messages requesting info such as this should avoid at all costs and the “business” in question should be reported to the proper authorities.
Install anti-virus/anti-malware programs
There are any number of programs online thieves can use to gain entry into a system and steal a person’s identity. These included everything from Trojan horses to back doors to keyloggers. That’s why it’s important to not only use anti-virus software, but anti-malware programs as well.
The good news is that many retailers bundle these two programs together in a single package.
For many people, OpenDNS is a way to speed up an Internet connection. But it also offers heightened online security through its content filtering solution. This feature alerts the user automatically when it detects they are visiting a site flagged as dangerous by their system.
Create different passwords
Oftentimes identity is stolen through a person’s email account. This is usually the result of the account holder not creating distinct passwords for their various online accounts.
It’s highly recommended that people with multiple online accounts use different secure passwords for each of their accounts, as this is one of the best ways to prevent thieves from figuring out these passwords.
Only frequent legit websites
These days, many people do the bulk of their shopping online. There is nothing wrong with this, as most e-commerce sites are reputable and above-board. However, there are land mines out there in the form of fake businesses and retailers that are just waiting to scam people and/or steal their identities.
The best way to know if a suspect site is legitimate or not is to run it through a checker such as Web of Trust