Consumer Identity Protection

Tips for Staying Safe Online

The online world can be a confusing—even intimidating—place, with new threats emerging on a regular basis. How can you keep yourself safe and still enjoy the benefits that the Internet brings? Armed with just a little knowledge, you can easily and effectively improve the security of your computer and your personal information. Here are some simple tips that will give you the freedom and confidence to take full advantage of the Internet:

Use anti-virus software, and keep it updated.

Computer viruses and Trojans are designed to steal your credit card information and passwords, take over your email and use it for spamming, or even record what you type on your computer. Using anti-virus software and keeping it up-to-date is the best protection against these threats.

Use a personal firewall, and keep it updated.

Hackers constantly create new ways to penetrate your computer. Installing a personal firewall creates a barrier that prevents hackers from accessing your information.

Create strong passwords and change them regularly.

Many people use simple passwords that are easy to remember but make it easy for hackers to gain access to your financial and personal accounts. Making your password more complex will keep you safer online. Think for example of a phrase or a poem and convert the first letters of each word in the phrase into your password.

Be aware of deceptive emails, pop-ups, and other online scams.

Online criminals will attempt to acquire your personal information by luring you to a website that looks legitimate, but is actually a fake site. If you receive any emails from an unfamiliar source, or any suspicious pop-ups, do not click on the links or open the attachment.

Check the security lock.

Sometimes, just the presence of a security lock alone is not proof enough that a website is genuine. You can verify a website is genuine by double clicking on the lock to display the website’s security certificate. If the name on the certificate and the address of the website do not match, then the website might be phony.

Limit the amount of personal information you share online.

Online criminals use social networking sites to gather information to answer the challenge questions most online services require in order to retrieve and change your password. Limit the amount of personal information you publicly share online.

Fraud is always on the move.

Phone scams are gaining popularity again. One type of scam involves phone calls from an automated call center asking you for sensitive information. You should never provide personal information to an unsolicited caller.

Check your online statements frequently.

In order to help ensure that you and your information stay safe, check your online account statements frequently.