4 Tips for Protecting Your Identity
Everything happens online these days, whether it’s shopping, live events, business transactions, or banking. You name it, it’s happening somewhere on the internet. This gives us plenty of opportunity for convenience and connection, but unfortunately also gives hackers and scammers plenty of opportunities to steal personal and financial information. Luckily, there are some easy, proactive steps you can take to guard your identity and financial future from identity theft.
1. Only make purchases on trusted websites
You can still shop small, local, and safely while protecting your financial and personal information. Research websites you’re going to purchase from and make sure they match an actual business. If possible, try also buying from businesses’ brick-and-mortar shops before buying from them online. You can always seek out independent reviews on websites or look for verified social media sites and profiles. If anything looks suspicious or any online transaction seems to ask for too much personal information, that deal might really be too good to be true.
2. Never open or respond to suspicious emails
The biggest tool in an identity thief’s arsenal is a very good, very fake email that pretends to be or spoofs a reputable-looking email address, logo, and hyperlink to look like a trusted company. These spoofed emails are used to seek out personal information like credit card numbers, Social Security numbers, login IDs, passwords, and more. Unfortunately, just clicking on a link or responding to one of these emails can send your personal information directly to scammers before you sometimes realized you’ve been tricked.
The best way to protect your identity is to avoid responding to any suspicious emails or clicking on any links. Does the email seem a little too familiar? Is the sender’s email address not really from the business the email claims? Is the request in the email asking for a little too much of your personal information? Are words misspelled? Is there a sense of urgency or demanding language? Head over to the real business’s website or official app and seek out information that can confirm the email's claims. In most cases, your official user account will review any errors or discrepancies that need your attention. If in doubt, use the official contact form to get more information from the company itself.
3. Create strong passwords and change them frequently
Keeping track of all your unique passwords can be a challenge, but is still very, very worth it. A strong password can keep scammers out and all your personal info in. But what’s a “strong password?”
Strong passwords can’t be easily guessed and never use words or numbers associated with your name, date of birth, children's birthdays, or any other personal information that scammers could find out from your social media or other online profiles.
Here are some easy tips for creating strong passwords:
- Use a mix of letters, numbers, and symbols, like punctuation marks
- Use both capital and lowercase letters
- Use a unique password for each online account or profile (don’t reuse passwords!)
Passwords like 12345, ABCDEF, or Ilovedogs are weak, while using a combination of the tips above are much stronger. Many online accounts and websites have password requirements in place to help you create stronger passwords.
4. Use debit and credit cards with built-in protection
Identity thieves and scammers would love to get their hands on your debit and/or credit card info. Before you sign up for a new credit card or open a new bank account, take some time to read the fine print about the protections offered to you. GO2bank and other major financial companies have strict protection in place to help prevent identity theft or to respond quickly if any personal information ever breaches. In most cases, your financial institution will work with you to get your money back for fraudulent charges on your debit or credit card when you promptly report suspicious activity.
Wondering how to protect yourself if you lose your card? With GO2bank’s mobile bank account, you can simply lock or unlock your card right from our mobile app, get help anytime at the online Help Center, and easily report any suspicious activity.
The views and opinions expressed here may not represent the views and opinions of Green Dot Corporation or its affiliates. It is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice.