Top 10 Ways to Keep Your Personal Information Safe on the Internet
With hackers and scammers working hard to devise new and insidious ways to steal your personal information it’s more important than ever that you do everything possible to protect it.
1. Probably the best way to protect your personal information is to not share anything. That may sound a bit extreme but it’s the one proven method that will keep your personal information safe.
2. Use social networking with care. It’s amazing what information can be gleaned from social networking sites. Fortunately most of these sites make it easy for you to keep your profile private. Share your information only with those you know and don’t accept friend requests from strangers.
3. Guard your credit card information. Never enter your credit card information before checking to make sure that the site is secure. The URL should always begin with https:// and there should be a lock icon in your browser. This may be in the lower right hand corner of the status bar or in the address bar at the top depending on your specific browser.
4. Use a disposable credit card. Many credit card companies now offer cards that you can fill with a limited amount of money. These are a great way to shop online. If the number is stolen your original account number is safe.
5. Know the companies you’re dealing with and only do business with well-known and reputable sites. Never click email links that offer special deals on anything, no matter how attractive the offer. Chances are it’s a bogus site set up to steal your credit card and other personal information.
6.Create strong passwords. Make your passwords longer than eight characters with a combination of upper and lower case letters and numbers. Avoid common words, or easy to guess dates.
7. When you leave a site make certain you are completely logged out. Simply closing the browser isn’t enough. You need to use the “Log Off” button to end you session with that site. Your browser may ask you if you want it to remember your user name and password for next time. While this may seem convenient, it is also an easy way for thieves to obtain your log in information.
8. Don’t store personal or financial information on your computer. This includes banking and tax records, receipts from online stores or a list of passwords. Use a removable flash drive and keep that in a secure location.
9. Install security software and keep it updated. This includes a firewall and virus and malware protection. There are many options available include some very reliable free security programs.
10. If you’re going to recycle your old computer you need to wipe the hard drive. Simply deleting it won’t do the job. Even erasing the drive won’t always enough since there is some pretty powerful recovery software out there. To make certain your personal information is completely gone, you may want to use a program specifically designed to erase private data.