As more and more Americans conduct every aspect of their lives online, identity theft is becoming in an increasingly lucrative business. Each year, more than 50 million Americans are the victims of identity theft, which costs more than $20 billion in damages. This means it’s imperative that consumers become aware of how to protect themselves when conducting business online. Luckily, there are a few simple tools, tricks, and tips that can help keep you safe online. Learn more, below.
Use strong passwords
One of the most common mistakes users make is to use the same password for all of their accounts, or to rely on a password that is too weak. Weak passwords are easy to crack, and if you use the same one across platforms then an identity thief can quickly gain access to sensitive financial and personal accounts. Strong passwords are at least 10 characters long, use a combination of upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers, and don’t have anything to do with your name, age, or birthday. Think your password is already good enough? Make sure it’s not one of the 25 most popular passwords!
Keep your security software up-to-date
Both your phone and computer should be equipped with security software that is routinely updated. Once a hacker has gained access to your online identity through malware there is little else that can be done, so prevention is key.
Always look out for the S
Https, that is. If you are making an online purchase, be sure that the site is encrypting your information by double checking that the url begins with https://www rather than http://www. This indicates that your information is being safeguarded by a secure, encrypted connection.
Learn to avoid phishing scams
Phishing scams infect your computer with malware by tempting unassuming users to download a virus by clicking a link. These scams can be highly sophisticated and some go so far as to create an entire website mockup that mimics a site you are used to using. The best way to avoid falling for phishing scams is to never click on an emailed link. Instead, if a link appears to be real, visit the website directly or contact the company to find out whether the original email was legitimate.
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