How to Keep Your Personal Info Secure Online

Monday, May 16 at 10:35 AM
Category: Personal Finance

This is the second of a three-part series on protecting your personal information. Check out the first part about how to keep information secure offline.

In addition to securing your personal information offline, as discussed previously, it’s critical to also use protective measures online. Know who you share your information with. Also, store and dispose of your personal electronic devices securely.

Be Alert to Impersonators
Make sure you know who is getting your personal or financial information. Don’t give out personal information on the phone, through the mail or over the internet unless you’ve initiated the contact or know who you’re dealing with. If a company that claims to have an account with you sends email asking for personal information, don’t click on links in the email. Instead, type the company name into your web browser, go to their site, and contact them through customer service. Or, call the customer service number listed on your account statement. Ask whether the company really sent a request.

Safely Dispose of Personal Information
Before you dispose of a computer*, get rid of all the personal information it stores. Use a wipe utility program to overwrite the entire hard drive.

Before you dispose of a mobile device*, check your owner’s manual, the service provider’s website, or the device manufacturer’s website for information on how to delete information permanently, and how to save or transfer information to a new device. Remove the memory or subscriber identity module (SIM) card from a mobile device. Remove the phone book, lists of calls made and received, voicemails, messages sent and received, organizer folders, web search history and photos.
 
Encrypt Your Data
Keep your browser secure. To guard your online transactions, use encryption software that scrambles information you send over the internet. A “lock” icon on the status bar of your internet browser means your information will be safe when it’s transmitted. Look for the lock before you send personal or financial information online.

Keep Passwords Private
Use strong passwords with your laptop, credit, bank and other accounts. Be creative. One idea is to think of a special phrase and use the first letter of each word as your password. Substitute numbers for some words or letters. For example, “I want to see the Pacific Ocean” could become 1W2CtPo.

Don’t Overshare on Social Networking Sites
If you post too much information about yourself, an identity thief can find information about your life, use it to answer “challenge” questions on your accounts, and get access to your money and personal information. Consider limiting access to your networking page to a small group of people. Never post your full name, Social Security number, address, phone number, or account numbers in publicly accessible sites.
 
Proactive measures online to safeguard your personal information can help prevent you from being a victim of identity theft.

Information courtesy of FTC Consumer Information.

Links marked with * go to a third-party site not operated or endorsed by Arvest Bank, an FDIC-insured institution. 

Tags: Consumer Protection, Privacy and Security
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