Web-based communications present new avenues of attack from identity thieves. Here are some ways to protect yourself online:
Leave some important fields blank when you sign up such as your birthday, address, phone number, hometown and place of birth. This is data that identity thieves can use to break into your accounts or to reset a password.
Some websites ask you to set a question if you forget your password. What if you put your “mother’s maiden name” as the question, and then write “Happy Birthday Mom (full name)” in a status update? Even revealing information in the most innocent of ways can be dangerous.
Unsecured web sites
Don’t put any data, especially credit card data, in an unsecured website. You can tell the difference between a secured and unsecured website by the URL. If it starts with “https://” it’s secure (think of the “s” standing for “secure” to remember). If the URL lacks the “s” like in “http://” it’s unsecured.
Another way of figuring out if it’s secure is to check the bottom right hand of the website for a padlock icon. If the site has it, it’s secure.
If you give away or sell your old cell phone once you’re done with it, make sure you’ve erased any personal information on it. Make especially sure to unclick “remember this account number/password” from your banking and social networking websites.