According to the 2016 Identity Fraud Study released by Javelin Strategy & Research, the total number of Identity Fraud victims in 2016 remained steady at 13.1 million as they did in 2015.
With the number of identity fraud victims at its second highest level in six years, it might be hard for consumers to feel that their personal information is safe. That’s why we recommend that consumers take control of protecting their personal information as much as possible. Data Privacy Day, which occurred on January 28th, is an excellent source of tips and information that consumers can use to help protect their privacy.
Here are the top 5 tips we learned from this year’s Data Privacy Day that can help you improve your online safety habits:
- Protect your personal information – make sure to create a unique password for each account. This makes it difficult for cybercriminals to hack into all of your accounts if they get ahold of your credentials for one. Some services offer two-factor authentication which creates an extra security layer when you log in.
- Know your settings – many are unsure about how their information is being used by companies because their privacy policies seem unclear and confusing. Therefore, familiarizing yourself with the user controls in mobile apps is a good step to ensure you aren’t sharing information you don’t intend to. Almost all mobile applications allow you to manage your privacy and location settings, and the wording is often more clear and straightforward.
- Connect with care – get savvy about Wi-Fi hotspots. When banking and shopping online, check to be sure the site is secure. Look for web addresses with “https://” or “shttp://,” which means the site takes extra measures to help secure your information. Http:// on the other hand, is not as secure, so you should try to limit the type of personal business you conduct on public Wi-Fi, or simply adjust the security settings on your device to limit who has access to it.
- Do not open suspicious links – if you receive an unexpected email or text (often a prize, free offer, or account problem) do not open the link. Chances are your SMS text is a Smishing attempt. If you click the link, you have a high chance of installing malware on your computer or phone that will be hiding in the background. This malware will send along information from your contact list and stored passwords back to hackers, compromising your personal information.
- Own Your Online Presence – share with care. Think before posting something about yourself and others online. Consider what a post reveals, who might see it, and how it could be perceived, now and in the future.
If you want to keep up with the latest tips for staying safe online, be sure to check out trusted websites like StaySafeOnline.org.