How to keep your private information safe online

Young people working on computers
OCCU  -  10.28.2019

To protect your identity online, think twice about what you share and make skepticism your default mode. If you get a request to share personal information, ask yourself if a legitimate business would make such a request. If it doesn’t feel right, move on.

To protect yourself, here are the basics:

Stay secure: Legitimate businesses know the risks of sharing information online and aren’t going to request your financial or personal information through a unsecured channel. If you’re skeptical about the source, consider doing some verification by contacting the company using a phone number or email address you look up yourself.

Be careful what you share on social media: Don’t assume anything is private. The more personal information you put out there, the more there is for identity thieves to latch onto. Lock down your privacy settings on social media sites so you’re sharing only with friends and family. 

Use complex passwords: While simple passwords may be easy to remember, they're low-hanging fruit for identity thieves, especially if you're not updating them regularly. Consider changing your password to a more complex phrase. Use unique, case-sensitive passwords with a variety of letters and special characters. Don’t use the same one for different websites. Finally, consider using a secure password manager to keep track of them all.

Be wary when using public Wi-Fi: It’s nice to pass the time on the internet at a coffeeshop or airport. But since they’re public networks, they’re vulnerable. Never conduct financial business or share private information when using public Wi-Fi.

Learn what online scams look like: Scammers are constantly upping their game to appear legitimate. Phishing scammers create real-looking emails, texts and web pages to fool you into revealing financial information. They may ask you to verify information or tell you that your account has been hacked. Anything to get you to click. If you think a request might be legitimate, contact the company directly through a secure channel.

Keep your browser and security software up to date: Older versions are more susceptible to attacks and aren’t designed to fend off the latest malevolent forces.

If you think your information has compromised, there are services available to help. The Federal Trade Commission offers free help at OCCU offers free basic identity theft assistance services through Identity Fraud Inc. to all members with a checking account. This coverage provides 24/7 assistance should you believe you have been a victim of identity theft. Additional coverage options are available if you need a greater level of assistance or expanded protection services.