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Cyber

Do’s & Don’ts for Safeguarding Your Personal Identity Online

The Baldwin Group
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Updated: April 23, 2024
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3 minute read

Personal identity crimes have risen in recent years – you probably already know this. It’s no wonder why more online retailers and banking services now require multi-factor authentication for you to log in to your accounts, or require you read through fraud warning statements before finalizing transactions. This is because accidentally sharing your personal information with the wrong parties can lead to unwanted consequences. According to the

Identity Theft Resource Center:

  • 40% of identity theft resulted in financial account misuse
  • 37% of account takeovers were with bank/financial accounts
  • 36% of new account fraud was with credit cards

This is why it’s important to remain vigilant against cybercriminals who want to steal your personal data. Fortunately, knowing what to look out for can following some best practices can keep these individuals away from your valuable information.

Do you know what to do – and what not to do – to stay cyber safe?

According to a  2023 survey from U.S. News and World Report, respondents indicated financial account takeover as their biggest concern – more than a home break-in.

Do’s & don’ts to guard against personal ID theft

For shopping online:

DO

  • Shop with reputable retailers.
  • Look for “https” in URLs when you shop online so you know your information is encrypted.
  • Make sure the closed padlock icon is in the correct spot for your browser.
  • Avoid public WI-FI where hackers can gain access to the websites on which you shop and steal your data.
  • Shop at home or in a private setting where no one (or camera) could be watching you, without your knowledge.
  • Check your shopping app settings and confirm that it keeps your data secure.
  • Check bills carefully for errors or charges you did not make and report any issues.
  • Use a credit card with a low spending limit for online purchases.
  • Be skeptical of urgent emails that request personal data, such as: driver’s license number, passport image, credit card account, etc.
  • Respond to questions from an online retailer by going to their website or calling them on the phone.
  • Trust your instinct if a deal seems “too good to be true.”

DON’T

  • Conduct transactions on websites that only have “http” in their URL.
  • Be fooled by “fake” padlock icons that are on a website…but in the wrong location for your browser.
  • Use free public WI-FI or websites that retain your banking, school, social media, or other confidential information.
  • Forget to disable “save password” option, log out when done, and delete browsing history.
  • Use a debit card connected to your bank account.
  • Share personal data electronically before you confirm the retailer is legit.
  • Directly reply through an email that they send you asking for account information or other credentials.
  • Forward any suspicious emails to others.

For making holiday donations:

DO

  • Contact the charitable organization personally to make your donation.

DON’T

  • Give personal financial information to an unknown phone solicitor.

For checking email:

DO

  • Only open messages that are from those you know or are expecting.
  • Beware of embedded links or attachments.
  • Delete any emails that seem suspicious, have poor spelling or grammar, generic greetings, or need urgent action.

DON’T

  • Click on unverified links in email messages or assume all links are safe to click.

For managing your system:

DO

  • Install anti-virus and anti-spyware protection on your computer.
  • Update security apps and software on a regular basis.
  • Erase and destroy your hard disk if you are getting a new computer.
  • Use strong, unique passwords/phrases for every online account you have; do not share them with anyone.
  • Consider using a password manager to create and remember passwords.

DON’T

  • Ignore security patches.
  • Donate an old computer or bring it to a recycling center without completely removing everything from the hard drive first.
  • Default to using the same password for every website or account login.
  • Click “remember my password” on web login screens.

Consider Cyber Insurance

Typically available as an addition to your homeowners insurance policy, personal cyber insurance can cover a wide array of cybercrimes, ranging from cyber and ransomware attacks to data breaches and online fraud. Since all policies are different, it’s important to discuss your specific needs and situation with your insurance broker and understand what’s covered, what’s not, and available coverage limit options.

Connect with us for more strategies that can keep your personal data secure.


Tags in this resource

antivirus Cyber cyber security identity theft password security
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