The Internet plays a huge role in our everyday lives as we do almost everything online than ever before. And Internet criminals grow smarter and sneakier, it is increasingly difficult to keep your personal information safe. There are a number of simple steps you can take to prevent criminals or fraudsters getting the information they need to steal your identity. The main message is to stay on guard.
Keep your personal details to yourself
Many websites will ask you to fill out a registration form before you can use them. While this is normal, it's a good idea to find out what the website will do with your personal details. All companies that collect information have to tell their customers how personal information will be used in their policies. So, make sure you check the website's terms and conditions or privacy policies before using them.
As a general rule, personal details should only ever be revealed when it is your decision to give them out. Most websites will never ask you for your online account password, and neither will any trustworthy online retailer, credit card or other legal parties concerned.
To keep your information safe, you should never give out your personal details to a telephone caller, such as your date of birth. Always delete emails asking you to provide sensitive information as fraudulent emails often appear genuine.
Know who you're dealing with
Please make sure you know who you're dealing with when you communicate with others online. Determined, unscrupulous individuals will set up bogus companies, websites, charities or other organizations in order to persuade you to part with personal information or money. Think hard, consider what it is. Are you being asked to give unnecessary or inappropriate details? Does the offer sound like you could be doing something illegal? Are you clear about who you are talking to?
Be wary about the computers you are using
If you use computer in a fixed place (e.g. home, office, school), please set up a username and password for logging on to your computer, if possible. If the computer is shared by different users, separate user accounts should be set up for every person using the same computer. Make sure they will only have access to what is available to them under their own name and password.
If you are using a public computer (e.g. Internet cafes, shopping malls), please make sure that you do not save your username or password, history and other personal data when using sites which require your input of personal information. After using the services you should sign completely off the sites you’ve used. If possible, you should sign off the computer you used as well.
Use technology and skills to help protect your personal information
You are suggested to use encryption software to keep unauthorized people from reading your e-mail. Also set up a separate login and password to access your mailbox. If you place orders or shop online, it's essential that you use a website which adopts encryption technology such as PGP to safeguard your credit card information.
When you register to a service, you are always required to provide a password. In this case, you should choose a strong password (which is hard for people to guess). Avoid using passwords that are easy for someone to guess, such as the name of your name, your date of birth, etc. A random and incomprehensible combination of characters and numbers are best for the security. Also, never write this information down and never carry it in your wallet or briefcase.