Three Things to Do Right Now
Use common sense and healthy skepticism to protect yourself when networking online:
- Protect your identity. Review your account and/or privacy settings.
- Be careful with links in messages. Be cautious about messages that are out of character with the supposed sender, or that contain short URLs.
- Protect your password. Choose cryptic passwords with random characters, numbers, uppercase and lowercase letters.
Five Steps to Protect Your Identity Online
Innocent online chats, blogs, videos, and other interactions are like breadcrumbs that identity thieves can follow to the feast. That makes social networking sites such as MySpace and FaceBook a 24-hour buffet. The thieves will keep coming back for more, as long as most Americans continue to ignore some simple precautions.
Your financial identity is worth protecting, and you must be especially vigilant if you are active on social networking sites or posting your resume online.
Start with these precautions:
► Assume that everything you post on social networking sites will be visible to everyone. And don't assume they won't know it's you -- at the very least, adjust your profile so your blogs and other materials are available only to "friends" to whom you grant access. That doesn't guarantee security, but it's a start.
► Don't click on links or attachments in e-mails unless you know what they are and who sent them.
If you get unsolicited e-mail asking for personal data such as your Social Security number or financial account numbers -- for any reason -- report it to www.fraud.org
and delete it.
► Use only trusted, secure Web sites when you enter sensitive personal information online. Rather than cut and paste links from e-mails, type the Web address in directly. Once there, look for "https" in the URL and a locked-padlock icon in the frame of your browser window.
► Use a spam filter, virus scanner, and firewall on your computer, and keep them updated. If you work from a wireless router, secure it with a password.
► Know what your children are doing online. If they are active on social networking sites, visit their site regularly to see what's going on, and insist that they guard their identities -- and yours.