Identity theft comes in many shapes and sizes, but as an online shopper, you’re up against a multi-headed beast. The tricks and scams of hackers and cyberthieves are always changing. However, preventative action is possible and can save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Protect yourself from identity theft while you shop online with these simple, yet effective measures.
Know Your Websites
Everyone searches on Google for products, or knows the specific web address for his or her favorite online stores. But did you know thieves and hackers can create websites and buy domain names that look almost exactly like the sites you love? When you enter your personal information the hackers capture it and use it for their own gain. While this is less common with large companies such as Amazon, eBay and other major only marketplaces, smaller, less secure and reputable websites may put you at risk. Make sure you check the address bar, so the site you’re on is one you know and trust.
Use Strong Passwords
A strong password is a vital key of your protection. Without strong password protection, you make yourself an easy target for hackers who have strategies and algorithms that will discover a flimsy password. In 2014, security firm SplashData found that the most often used passwords were, “123456,” “password,” and “12345.” A thief doesn’t need any computer skills to guess these. If you do have a more robust password, such as a combination of unlikely words, many hackers use programs that combine and enter words based on their likelihood to be used as a password. When one fails, another combination is generated. These programs work quickly, and only with a firm password will you stay safe. Because of this, use passwords that are randomly generated. Memorizing randomly generated passwords might be difficult, so use a password management app on your mobile device or a computer program.
Get Antivirus Software
Antiviruses are simply the most effective way to prevent online identity theft. A reputable antivirus blocks spyware, malware and Trojan horses that can ride in on emails, or piggy back on popups. But good antivirus software doesn’t stop there. It also protect against theft of your laptop or computer with phantom accounts. A phantom account appears when someone has tried and failed to log into your computer more than once. The phantom account needs no password and lets the thief into your computer in a limited capacity. The antivirus will then triangulate the computer’s location and notify you through email or connected webapp. Some antiviruses will even take a photo of the thief so you know what he or she looks like.
While hackers and thieves will always find new ways to steal, you can get the latest news on cybersecurity from Lifelock, an identity theft prevention service. Lifelock’s Facebook page has many tips and resources in the field. Self monitor, keep your computer and antivirus updated, shy away from third party or unfamiliar marketplaces, and check your bank statements regularly. With these tips you can rest assure hackers will be stopped before they get close to your personal information.