The Internet has truly changed the way that Americans think. The conveniences that the Internet has brought to our lives are truly amazing. We have such a wealth of knowledge at our fingertips. Yet along side the good is a portion of the bad. The Internet is also to blame for the creation of a totally new type of criminal, the online predator. Online predators and thieves can seek to take advantage of you financially, to use your identity for their own purposes, and even to commit some kind of physical crime. In order to reap as many benefits as possible from online ventures, you must learn how to keep your identity safe when you are online.
Tips for keeping your identity safe when you are online
Do not share personal information — In order to keep your identity safe while you are online you have to guard it carefully. If you are ever asked to divulge any personal information about yourself (such as your name, birth date, address, bank account numbers, etc.) always be suspicious. Banks will never ask you to share this information online other than through their own secure banking site. Giving away something as harmless as your name or address can be all that a predator needs to track down more specific information about you that you may not even know is out there in cyber space somewhere. Remember that the best way to keep your identity safe is to never share it with anyone online in the first place.
Do not open any e-mails you do not recognize — Hacking into your computer is a popular method that identity thieves use to get your personal information. One way that thieves try to hack into your system is by sending you a virus. Computer viruses are most commonly sent through e-mail and attachments or downloads. By opening a message or downloading an infected file you may be introducing a virus to your computer that you are completely unaware of. Unless you use caution when it comes to what e-mails you choose to open and what you choose to download, you could have a thief watching every move that you make on your computer and it doesn’t take much imagination to see what kind of vulnerability that means for you.
Run regular checks on your firewall and filtering software — Make sure that you are aware of the status of your firewall and filtering software. Sometimes updates are necessary to protect against the newest types of threats posed by thieves and predators.
Use caution when chatting with strangers; never meet them alone — Just as you would never get into a stranger’s car, you should never be alone with anyone that you only know through online conversations. Online dating and dating chat rooms are rapidly growing in popularity. Many people have put themselves in dangerous situations by arranging to meet with someone that they have never met before. Keep in mind that when a predator is online they can pretend to be anyone that they want to be. They often are skilled at manipulating their victims into trusting them and developing a strong connection with them. For safety’s sake, always be on your guard to make sure that you do not become emotionally involved with anyone that you do not know personally.
If making a purchase online make sure that efforts have been made to ensure that the site is secure — Contrary to popular belief, making purchases online is no more dangerous than making purchases in person so long as the site that you are purchasing from is secure. Most sites will advertise the fact that they have security methods in place. Make sure that you know a site is safe before entering any kind of purchasing information.