1. Only Make Purchases On Trusted Sites
When deals seem too good to be true, they just may be--you might be paying as a victim of identity theft when you make purchases on Web sites that aren't secure. There are lots of small online retailers that don't have adequately secure payment systems. The best way to make sure that your information doesn't get intercepted is by simply sticking with trusted, well-known online retailers, or smaller sites that use reputable payment processors like PayPal or Google Checkout. Regardless of which site you use, you should always make sure to look for the padlock icon on the bottom of your browser to verify that the page is safe.
2. Review Your Transactions
Review your bank and credit card account statements or review them anytime online. If you identify fraud or you just suspect a fraudulent transaction don't hesitate to call the financial institution to ask questions.
3. Know How To Spot Phishing
Phishing is a technique used by identity thieves to get your sensitive information by pretending to be a site you trust. Phishing schemes are successful because you believe that you're just signing into your bank or credit card account, when it's really a ploy to get your important information. When logging into these accounts, make sure that you're not being asked for any information that you usually wouldn't be required to provide to log in. Social security numbers and addresses are often red flags. Also, check the URL of the site.
4. Secure Your Network
If you have a wireless network at home or work, make sure that you secure it. A hacker can gain access to anything you do over an unsecured network in a matter of seconds. If you look at the documentation for your wireless router, you'll be able to find out how to lock your router and encrypt your information. It won't affect the way you use your wireless network, but it will keep intruders from getting a hold of your information.
5. Can the Spam
Be very leery of "spam" (or junk e-mail) that works its way into your inbox. Not only are these messages often from phishers, but they can also contain Trojan horses (viruses) that can get into your computer and send your information back to their unsavory creators. If you have the option, install spam-filtering software (or ask your e-mail provider whether it can add spam-filtering to your account). Not only will this cut back on going through your daily pile of junk e-mail, it can also keep your data safe.
6. Don't Store Sensitive Information On Non-Secure Web Sites
As more and more useful Web applications start springing up (like Backpack, Facebook and Google Calendars), it's important to make sure that you're not storing sensitive data on non-secure Web sites. While online calendars, to-do lists and organizers are really useful, make sure that your account numbers and passwords don't make their ways onto these sites, which often aren't protected the same way a banking or brokerage Web site would be.
7. Be Smart with Passwords
Increase the strength of your password. The strength of a password is a function of length, complexity, and unpredictability.
Never reveal your passwords to anyone. Idaho Trust Bank will never ask for a password. If you need password assistance, please contact us and we will assign you a temporary password.
As tempting as it may be to reuse passwords, it's a really good practice to use a different password for every account you access online. This way, if someone does find out what your password is for one credit card, they won't also be able to access your checking, brokerage and e-mail accounts. It may take a little more organization to use different passwords for each site, but it can help marginalize the effects of unauthorized access to your accounts.
8. Use Optional Security Questions
Like with using different passwords for each account, it's a good idea to set up optional security questions to log into your accounts. Many financial institutions ask security questions that a third party wouldn't know, but you can often set up multiple optional questions that can increase the security of your account. Remember to use questions that don't have answers available by public record. For example, choose questions such as "What was the color of your first car?" over "What city were you born in?"
9. Don't Put Private Information On Public Computers
If you're away from home, make sure not to save private information onto a computer used by the public. If you're accessing a private account at the library or cyber café, make sure to log out completely from your accounts, and never choose to save login information (like your username or password) on these computers.
10. Use Online Bill Pay
Mail at rest, whether it is in your mailbox or an inbox on your desk, is often unsecured. Using online bill pay will lower the risk of a personal information breach by stolen mail.
The information on this page was adapted from the article 'Ten Tips to Avoid Identity Theft' by Jones Elmerraji on investopedia.com.