How to Avoid Online Identity Theft

There are a few simple steps that you can take to avoid online identity theft:

  •  Check the locks. If you enter credit card information online to make a purchase, you should see a lock in your browser’s status bar, usually in the right corner. If you don’t see the lock, don’t enter your information.
  • Beware of being redirected to a “middle-man” website when you think you are on a secure site, such as your bank’s webpage. Check for suspicious URLs.
  • Keep track of your credit card and banking statements to check for suspicious transactions.
  • Don’t answer emails or follow links in emails claiming to be from reputable institutions like your bank or university that ask for sensitive information such as your Social Security number. Contact the institution in question via phone or their website about these emails.
  • Use common sense. If an offer sounds too good to be true (“Just enter your credit card number for a free trip to Paris!”), it is likely to be a scam. This can also be the case when a google search reveals one vendor who vastly undercuts all the others on the market. You may have found a fake website designed to get your credit card number. Do some online research if you suspect a scam.
  • Don’t be cavalier about sending secure information when using the wifi in your favorite cafe. Unless the wifi network is secure, you are only safe when using encrypted websites.
  • Look out for emails claiming to be from companies such as Norton Anti-Virus that prompt you to download something. Get in touch with the company independently (do not reply to the email itself) to check on the information.

--Liz Soltan