People lives have gotten easier thanks to the internet. With that being said, it is important people know how to protect themselves and their personal information to avoid becoming a victim of fraud. Online criminals and fraudsters can use your information to create bogus accounts to obtain anything they want. They can also use your information for phishing or soliciting.
Attempting to get private or financial information from people online is known as phishing. The act begins with an email that looks like it is from a trusted source you know. It may claim to come from a bank. The email will encourage you to click a link claiming to take you to the website to enter personal account information including your password. If you fall for the trick, they get your personal information and access to your account.
Here’s what you need to protect yourself:
1. Check privacy settings
When using social media sites, review privacy settings. The settings for your profile may at the defaults, and you can change them to make your account information more secure. You should also review this information in case there is something you should keep private.
2. Limit bio information
Social media websites will ask for personal information when creating an account. Use tools offered to limit what others can view when they land on your page. The privacy settings may help customize the content that is viewable.
3. Avoid sharing account details
Sensitive details such as your bank account number, social security number, or other related information should be private. Use sponsored communication options such as email, telephone, mailed letter, or direct communication via the website if you need to share such information to reduce the risk of personal details getting into the wrong hands.
4. Choose friends and add contacts wisely
The reason why you signed up for a social media account is likely why you have friends and contacts on your list. Be cautious of requests from people you don’t know. You don’t have to accept every friend request.
5. Learn features of the website
When signing up for an account, get to know the features. Do this before sharing information to understand how the site functions. You can choose who can view your posts and understand how such content is shared with others.
6. What is shared online stays online
Think before you share. Because of the unique way the internet is designed, once you post something, it stays online forever. People have ways of getting information and saving to another source. So, if you don’t want to set yourself up for embarrassment, think twice before posting messages or photos.
7. Have a good reputation when approaching job recruiters
Research has shown roughly 70 percent of job recruiters have turned down applicants because of something posted to their social media page. When you’re online, conduct yourself in a manner you want people to respect you for. Keep your online presence positive and be thoughtful with what you share.
8. Use tools to manage friends and contacts
Have a personal profile page to keep in contact with people you know personally. Use a fan page to appeal on a public level without risking too much of your personal information. Use tools to separate contacts into groups.
You can have a list of family members, friends, co-workers, etc. Managing contacts helps you get a better idea of who is following you online. This helps determine what you can share, with whom, and when to keep things to yourself.
9. Let others know if you are not comfortable
Be respectful of opinions and things shared online between you and friends. Yet, mention when something makes you uncomfortable or when you think something is inappropriate. This helps set boundaries for what content appears on your page. Plus, you learn what people can and cannot tolerate while respecting one another.
10. Know when to take immediate action
If someone harasses you online or makes inappropriate threats, contact the administrator of the website. You can report the person and take additional action of blocking them or removing them from your list.
11. Keep antivirus software up-to-date
Keeping your antivirus system updated ensures your web browsing is protected from potential threats that may get picked up via social networking, such as clicking links or opening messages.
12. Be in control of your online presence
Know what information you share and who it is being shared with. Check privacy and security settings to stay on top of information shared. Make changes as needed.
13. Use a strong password or create a sentence
Use a strong password to log in your account to reduce hacking risk. The password should be at least 12 characters long with a mix of lower and upper case letters, symbols, and numbers. Consider using a short sentence you can remember and add a number and symbol to make it more secure something like: “I love dollar bills.” The password can have spaces too.
14. Use different passwords for each account
Try keeping passwords for email and social media separate to throw off cyber criminals. For your most used or most important accounts make sure your passwords are strong.
15. Through away or delete messages when in doubt
When you get a message that seems suspicious, delete it. Don’t open it or forward its contents if you don’t trust it. People often get so many ads for different stores and businesses, it can be easier to delete it and be safe.
16. Keep tweets protected
You can choose to use a protected Twitter account if you want more control of what people can view and access. Followers who are approved to follow you have access to details you post. Search engines won’t index your tweets and cannot view them in a Google search.
17. Consider turning off Broadcast Activity on LinkedIn
Use the Broadcast Activity feature to limit what information is seen by your followers. LinkedIn has a unique way of letting others know your updates. This means people and organizations you follow will get updates you post.
18. Limit LinkedIn updates to your followers
You can post updates and changes to your status like on Facebook. People can choose to subscribe to your updates. But, you can use privacy settings to select who can receive updates you post. The public doesn’t have to get your updates but a few select connects can.
19. Use privacy settings to keep Facebook page from being indexed
Use Facebook privacy settings and look for the option “Let other search engines link to your timeline.” When turned on, people who search your name through a search engine can see your Facebook profile. Potential employers may do this. If you don’t want your profile searchable in this manner, turn this feature off.
20. Restrict friend requests
Not all friend requests are true friend requests. Some are cyber criminals with nothing else better to do than to spam or phish people. They do this randomly with accounts all the time. Restrict who can send you a friend request by choosing options under privacy settings and selecting “Who can contact me?”
21. Avoid mentioning other accounts
There are a few social media websites allowing users to connect their social media accounts together at once. If you are working to establish a professional and personal identity, you may want to keep them separate. Linking the accounts increases security risks and you may end up sharing something you don’t want to appear on another site. An example connect is Twitter with LinkedIn.
22. Use settings to cut reviews for Facebook tags
Use Facebook settings titled “Timeline and Tagging” section to set limits on what can be shared using your name. This is handy if friends have pictures that include you, but you may not want them shared with others. When the picture is uploaded and tagged with your name, you learn about it first. You can require an approval before it gets published.
23. Make Facebook groups restricted
Create groups on Facebook to control who sees what. You can block someone you want to keep as a friend from viewing certain posts. To do this, add the friend to the “Restricted” list when clicking on the Facebook sidebar. The posts would be marked “public,” but they are only seen by friends added to this list.
Isn’t it great to have more control over who sees your social media posts? Your online security is greatly increased thanks to a few easy steps taken to control your identity when online.