How to Keep Your Identity Safe Online
With all of the exponential advancements we are seeing in technology, it is important to proactively protect your identity, and these are a few easy ways to do that and save yourself the time and headache of trying to untangle the mess it can create!
Freeze your credit
Freezing your credit is a free and easy way to add a layer of protection to your identity. Unless you are opening a new line of credit because you are buying a home or car for example – there are not many reasons you would need to have a hard inquiry on your credit. In fact – even if you are buying a home or car – you can temporarily lift the credit freeze for a limited amount of time or to a specific lender that needs access to it and then have the freeze resume once they have the information that they need. You will need to go to each of the 3 credit bureaus to freeze your credit which you can do either online, by phone, or by postal mail. I would suggest creating an online account with each of the credit bureaus because it allows you to lift the credit freeze easily if you need to temporarily lift it.
Utilize a password manager
A password manager can be a great tool to help protect your identity online and it can do more than simply securely store and organize your passwords. It can also-
- Help generate strong passwords for you
- Monitor the dark web for any of your personal information that may be compromised
- Alert you to any of your passwords that may have been involved in a data leak and need to be updated
- Create an emergency contact so that you can share your online logins with a trusted family member or friend.
Review your credit report annually
It is a good practice to review your credit report annually to ensure it is correct and that there is no suspicious activity. There are also credit monitoring services that can alert you to any unusual activity throughout the year. A few years ago, my husband and I had an experience where our personal information had been compromised online. Thankfully we had a credit monitoring service set up, so we noticed the unusual activity quickly and we were able to limit the damage however it didn’t prevent someone from opening multiple cell phone accounts in our names. From that point forward we decided to leave our credit frozen, and it has brought us so much peace of mind since then and I highly recommend it!
Use only secure websites and wi-fi connections
How do you know if the website you are using is safe while browsing the internet? One thing to look for is whether the web address begins with https:// – this indicates that you are using a secure website. This is especially important if you are entering your personal information and/or purchasing goods or services. Additionally – be aware of using any kind of public wi-fi and if possible, use a VPN which is a Virtual Private Network so that you can be assured your internet connection is secure.
Use your credit card when making online purchases
Using a credit card rather than a debit card when making purchases online (or in real life) is another way to add a layer of protection. There is a limit of liability when using a credit card and it also prevents thieves from having access to your actual bank account. It is easier to not only get any unauthorized transactions reversed they can alert you to any usual activity or request authorization of purchases over certain dollar amounts.
There is a lot to be aware of when trying to protect yourself online, however, these tips are a great place to safeguard your identity, credit, and personal information. What other tips do you utilize to protect yourself online?