Scammers are good, and they’re only getting better at finding our personal information. That means you may be at risk of identity theft and not even know it!
One way that scammers take advantage of our personal information is by being sly online, and with today’s ease of shopping on the internet, your most personal information is at risk. That is, unless you follow these tips that will help you stay safe and avoid scams on the internet.
Don’t click hyperlinks in emails
This is perhaps the easiest-to-follow tip, but it’s also one of the most vital. Scammers are getting really good at sending spam mail that looks like the real deal, and these emails are always urgent, which is likely to make you follow their directions.
For example, PayPal has had issues with phishing emails that threaten to close the user’s account unless additional information is provided. The user clicks the link and updates their account information, only to discover fraudulent charges on their bank account.
The moral of the story is not to click on any hyperlink that is located in an email. Instead, visit the website directly. Once you log into your account from a safe browsing tab, you’ll discover pretty quickly whether that email is what it claims to be.
Be smart about how you pay
Shopping online makes life a lot easier, and because it’s so easy, more people than ever are selling their goods and services online. It’s a great way to shop last minute or to find the best deals, but you definitely need to be smart about how you pay.
Only enter your credit card or bank account information on big-name websites. Don’t enter your personal information on personal websites or websites that seem buggy or have multiple pop-up ads. If you do want to make a purchase through a small website, make sure you’re able to use something like PayPal or Visa Checkout, which protects your information from being seen by the retailer.
The same goes for making purchases online via your smartphone. Phone technology hasn’t quite caught up with computer technology, which means your phone isn’t protected with antivirus software. Be careful about how you use your phone to make purchases online.
You shouldn’t have to share your Social Security number to shop online
Your Social Security number is the Holy Grail of personal information to an identity thief, as it allows them endless possibilities to empty your bank accounts, open new lines of credit, and much more. That’s why it’s important to understand that you should never have to divulge your Social Security number when it comes to day-to-day shopping online.
Unfortunately, there are some cases where your Social Security number is needed online, such as online background checks, but it should never be needed when making a purchase. If you’re at all uncomfortable about handing over your Social Security number, don’t be afraid to call and ask questions first. In some cases, you may be able to provide a different identifying piece of information, such as a driver’s license number.
Don’t friend or follow strangers on social media
Social media is a great way to stay connected with friends and family. Unfortunately, those aren’t the only people you’re likely to have on your Facebook and Twitter accounts.
Some people are friend collectors, which means adding or friending people on their accounts simply because the request was made. Many identity thieves create fake accounts hoping to get friended so they have a chance at getting ahold of your personal information.
When it comes to Facebook and Twitter, only make connections with people you actually know.
The days of being trusting online are over. Fortunately, keeping your information safe doesn’t have to be hard! Just follow these tips and you can browse and shop online to your heart’s content without worrying about your personal information getting into the wrong hands.