Tips to protect your identity online

By Staff Writer

Identity theft is on the up and crooks are becoming increasingly clever, but all that means is that you need to be smarter than the thieves.

Having your information compromised is a risk that many of us simply cannot afford to take, especially since this could negatively impact your credit record.  So, how do you stay safe, then?

We have some tips.

Up your security in cyberspace

Making use of internet banking has become the norm for most of us, it allows us to skip the long queues at the banks and transact from the comfort of our computers or from the palm of our hand – if you use internet banking.

Make sure your anti-virus and anti-spyware programmes are all up to date and you have a solid firewall running.

When you use your credit card to pay online, make sure you are logged onto a secure server.  At the bottom right of your screen a small padlock icon should appear and the address in the browser should begin with ‘https’ – all of these  are indications of a secure sever. If any of these factors are absent, or your computer gives you a warning, opt to go elsewhere.

Careful where you dump your junk

You should be aware by now that you should take extra care when disposing of bank statements, receipts and other paper work that carries personal and sensitive information.

Always use a cross shredder to tear up statements or, better yet, burn them if you can.

Keep your sensitive information safe

‘Sensitive’ information generally refers to any personal details, your name, address, date of birth, ID number, bank details and so on. It’s of the utmost importance that you keep this information safe and that you take great care when sharing any of this information.

If you do share any of the above information, be sure you know who the person is you are sharing it with and you know exactly what they plan on doing with it.

Don’t ever leave your debit or credit cards where fraudsters could easily copy down your details. For example, don’t leave it on a counter in a shop or restaurant and if you are paying for the bill at a restaurant with your card, don’t let it out of your sight.  Let the waitron bring the card machine to you or, if there are no mobile card machines, personally carry the card to where you need to make a payment.

When you move house, make sure you change your address with your bank and all other financial institutions from whom you receive mail.

Monitor yourself

Keep an eye on your bank statement and credit report – this way you’ll immediately spot when there are dodgy going ons. Make sure you check all transactions on your statement at least once a month.

If you spot any discrepancies, make sure you contact your bank straight away.  Also keep in mind that if you lose your cards, your ID or your passport – you should inform the relevant authorities immediately so that action can be taken to cancel these documents.

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