5 Tips for Keeping Your Personal Information Secure Online

January 28, 2014

According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, in 2012 more than 16 million Americans were victims of identity theft. With the constant oversharing on social media and the recent data breaches at Target and Snapchat, it’s beneficial to take a step back and review how to keep your personal information safe online.

The FTC recommends 5 ways to keep your data safe online. Let’s take a look.

1. Beware of Scammers

You should know that scammers are real and they will try to steal your personal information if they come across it. Never give out your personal information over the Internet, phone, mail or via text message, unless you know exactly who you are dealing with. If you receive a suspicious email from a business and you’re not sure if it’s legitimate, close the email, open a new browser, type in their web address and contact them through their customer service.

2. Securely Dispose of Your Personal Information

Document shredding and electronics recycling are two of the most effective ways to dispose of sensitive records, data, documents and information. Electronic devices, even when no longer in use, often retain confidential personal information that can fall into the wrong hands if disposed of incorrectly.

3. Secure Your Browser

Always use a secure browser. Look for “https” at the beginning of the web address (the “s” stands for “secure”). Access your accounts from a secure location, using computers and networks that you know are safe and secure. Avoid using public networks and always look for the padlock icon in the corner of the browser, signaling that the website is encrypted.

4. Keep Your Passwords Private

Your passwords should be more than 6 characters and contain letters, numbers and special characters. Mix upper and lower case letters. Don’t use personal information or dictionary words. Hackers use software to enter random dictionary words to help them determine your password.

5. Don’t Overshare on Social Media

Go through your privacy settings on each site and determine what a good amount of privacy protection is. Consider keeping your profile limited to only certain groups or friends. Never post your personal information such as Social Security number, date of birth or your full name in a public place.

For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.