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Tips for Preventing Online Identify Theft

In the age of modern technology, threats to our personal security have become  undeniable – and unfortunate – fact.  One of the most common risks is succumbing to identity theft: the practise of someone stealing all of your personal information so that they use it to carry out a range of illegal activities such as theft, obtaining erroneous credit against your name and even blackmailing you.  As well as understanding the benefits of federated identity management (which is vital), how should you go about keeping yourself safe from identity theft?

Look out for phishing

Phishing is an extremely common tactic used by those looking toaccess data that isn’t their own.  Essentially, a phishing website is one that presents itself as a legitimate business page (and will, indeed, often mimic an existing site, such as that of your bank).  They are set up in order to try and trick the user into entering personal data such as their name, social security information and even their financial details.  Links to these sites are often sent via both social media and through direct e-mail, so if you receive a message purporting to be from a bank or financial institution that asks you to click on a link or enter details directly, then block it.  NO financial institutions ask their customers to do this, specifically because it’s such a common phishing tactic.

Use effective software

In the modern world, there is absolutely no excuse for not using high quality, effective anti-virus and anti-malware software.  These programs are created specifically to ensure you’re less susceptible to attacks.  As well as fighting off infections and attempted hacks when they occur, software of this kind will also provide warnings whenever any activity that they consider suspicious takes place on your computer, and allow you the chance to block said activity.  There are a lot of great programs available out on the web, many of which are completely free.Avast! is highly recommended and widely used.

Keep your passwords unique

This might be the most obvious tip on this little list, but we can guarantee that it’s one that thousands of people out there are still ignoring!  It’s essential to avoid using the same password for all of your online accounts and profiles, for the simple reason that if it becomes compromised, the thieves will then be able to immediately access a number of other accounts that you use.  And yes, they will immediately try the one password they have access to on absolutely everything – unfortunately; it’s simple common sense for them to do so.

Only use well known websites

In 2013, the number of e-commerce websites (ie, those that sell products through the web) numbers in the millions.  In many ways, this is a good thing – it doesn’t hurt to be able to shop around and get the best price!  However, you simply can’t be sure that every one of those pages takes their security as seriously as you do.  For that reason, try and only use well-known names wherever possible, such as Amazon or Ebay.  The bigger the site, the more reason they have to implement an effective security system: they have a reputation to uphold, after all!

Don’t divulge too much personal information

Whilst social media offers a wealth of opportunity to communicate with friends and loved ones, it’s also a well known resource for identity thieves.  The reason?  People will share really personal information about themselves with their friends, relations and colleagues.  The more personal details that people add to their profile, the more in-depth the profile thieves can create on them, and the more legitimate they can then appear when pulling their scam.Save yourself the bother: if you want to use Facebook or Twitter then fine, but keep your profile details to a minimum, even if the networks themselves try to get you to be more detailed!

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