Personal and financial information is currency for criminals online. With your stolen identity, a criminal may be able to access your bank account, obtain credit cards or loans in your name and potentially ruin your credit rating.
Tip: Treat your personal information as you would treat your money—protect it and don’t leave it lying around for others to take
How to protect your privacy and identity online
You need to be careful with how much personal information you reveal online. Sharing your address, telephone number, birthday, and other personal information can mean you are at a greater risk of identity theft, stalking and harassment. This includes information you post on social media.
You also need to think about what information you may have online that is spread across multiple sites. Identity thieves can piece together your identity from public information that is available about you online.
Take proactive measures to protect your information
- Use strong passwords and don’t share them with anyone. Ideally use a random combination of numbers, letters and punctuation over eight characters long.
- Use a separate email address for shopping, discussion groups and newsletters. If you need to, you can then change this address without disrupting online business activities.
- Only share your primary email address with people you know.
- Adjust your privacy settings on social networks to control the amount and type of information you want to share.
Moderate your activity online and monitor for signs of compromise
- Check your billing and account records carefully to detect signs of potential identity theft early.
- Be careful when signing up to mailing lists – spammers sometimes use the unsubscribe button to validate addresses.
- Think before you fill out online forms and be careful with whom and how you share your information. Ask yourself: do I really need to give my information to this site?
- Keep a record of what information you have given to whom.
Know what to do if your identity is stolen
- Notify your financial institutions.
- Change your passwords.
- Notify the relevant websites.
- Request a credit report from a reputable credit reference bureau.