With each passing day, consumers become more reliant on the internet for daily life. The more we use online services to conduct business, the more pieces of our digital identities are created.
So what is a digital identity? To put it simply, your digital identity is pieces of information spread across websites, social media pages, and online accounts. When pieces of information are combined, they create a picture of you. And if fraudsters or hackers are able to obtain enough of those pieces, they can pretend to be you, opening up your digital identity for compromise.
Protecting yourself from fraud means you need to protect your digital identity. Here are some tips you can start following right away to keep your digital identity secure.
Tip #1: Create Strong Passwords
Think of a password as being the lock on your door. You probably have a strong lock on there to avoid intruders, right? Using strong, complex passwords will keep fraudsters out of your accounts. Passwords should be long as well – typically at least 12 characters. Making a password longer is one of the easiest ways to make it stronger. Avoid using common words or phrases, or easy things to guess, like your name. Use a combination of uppercase and lowercase letters, as well as numbers and symbols. Also, avoid using the same password on different accounts. That way, if fraudsters get your password for one account, they won’t be able to use it to access other accounts.
Tip #2: Use Security Software
Security and antivirus software should be a must-have on all your devices. This software can prevent attacks and make your online browsing safer. It can detect and block malicious websites, as well as identify corrupted files on your device. Remember to install this software on your phones and tablets as well. Many people fail to protect their personal devices, even though most of their online activity takes place on them.
Tip #3: Install Updates Frequently
Most of us receive notifications on a daily basis requesting updates to an app or a device’s operating system, but all too often those requests are dismissed to be done at a later time. Don’t wait to update! Not only do these updates provide performance improvements, they often include important security and bug fixes. Hackers find ways to exploit old versions of apps and operating systems, so the more up to date your software is, the less likely it will be compromised.
Tip #4: Watch What You Share on Social Media
Social media sites are a great way to connect with friends and family, but they are also a place fraudsters go to try and steal your information. Your social media profiles can provide critical pieces of information used to overtake your digital identity, such as your birth date, your place of residence, the schools you attended, and the names of your children or pets. With this information, criminals can answer common digital security questions and potentially hack into your accounts. Make sure your privacy settings are strong, allowing only friends and family to see your posts and personal information. Also, think before you post – if you think you may be sharing too much personal information, it’s probably best to keep it off social media.
Tip #5: Shred Sensitive Information
Although many of us have transitioned to digital bills and statements, we still receive a lot of paper documents that contain personal information. Fraudsters still partake in “dumpster diving,” the act of digging through trash to find personal information to steal identities. Think twice before throwing things away. If it contains your name, address, account information, or other pieces of sensitive information, send it through the shredder or take it to a secure shredding event.
Tip #6: Review Your Credit Regularly
It’s important for you to regularly check your credit reports for accuracy, as well as watch out for any fraudulent activity that could harm your credit profile. Criminals will take your personal information and attempt to open credit in your name, and in most cases the damage has been done before the fraudulent credit is identified. You are allowed to request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three credit bureaus every year – they are TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax. We recommend spacing out your reviews throughout the year so you can more easily monitor your credit for inaccuracies and fraudulent activity. Visit annualcreditreport.com to get your free credit report online.
Following these simple tips can help you take control of your digital identity and keep your personal information secure. Dutch Point Credit Union in Connecticut is committed to providing you with effective tools to keep your digital identity safe. Visit our Fraud Prevention page to learn more about what you can do to protect yourself and what we do to help protect you.