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Five Must-Follow Tips to Protect Your Identity Online

December 23rd, 2016 by Irwin Fletcher Comments

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Five Hot Tips You Must Follow to Protect Your Identity

Well folks, it’s happened again. A major data breach was just exposed at Yahoo, one of the internet’s biggest technology companies. According to Yahoo, data from over 1 billion accounts was jeopardized in a break-in from August 2013.

That’s right, one billion accounts! That’s roughly 14% of the world’s population. If the numbers aren’t staggering, the content of the stolen information should be. Hacker’s apparently got their hands on user email addresses, names, dates of birth, passwords, and security questions and answers.

If you are a Yahoo account holder, and weren’t using an app to protect your identity, your identity may be compromised.

Whether you are a Yahoo user or not, the following five general tips are a must for you to keep your identity safe online moving forward.

1) Change your password, NOW!

This is the most urgent step. Since hackers may already have your login details, you should change your password as quickly as possible. If you’re using Yahoo mail, here are the steps to changing your password:

  1. Once you’re logged in, click on the gear in the upper right hand corner of your browser.
  2. Click on Account Info.
  3. Under Account Security, click on Change Password.
  4. Enter your new password into the “New Password” field, and click Continue.

Here are some tips to choosing a new password that will protect your identity. Use a password that is several characters long, preferably the longest one you can remember. Also, use a combination of character types (upper-case, lower-case, symbols and numbers) to create a unique password that can’t be easily guessed.

2) Be stingy with your credit card details

We all know how convenient it is to shop online. There’s something incredibly satisfying about being able to have items delivered directly to your home with the click of a button. But every time you divulge your credit card information online, you are putting yourself at risk.

Only use your credit card with trusted websites and those that use encryption. You can check for encryption by looking at the address bar in your browser. If the URL begins with https://, you are probably good to go. If not, don’t use your credit card.

In order to proactively protect your identity, check your credit card bills every month for any charges you don’t recognize. If something comes up, notify your credit card company right away.

3) Use trick answers for account security questions

A lot of people think that security questions are enough to protect their account, but as we saw with the Yahoo breach, hackers can get their hands on those as well.

Your best bet is to fortify your security questions by indirectly answering the questions. For example, use letters instead of numbers or mash your entire answer together into one word.

Better yet, for an added level of security, use unique passwords to answer security questions.

4) Dance the two-step to protect your identity

Two step authentication is one of the most practical steps you can take to protect your identity. The system requires a secondary PIN code to get into your account that is texted to your phone. Unless someone has access to your mobile phone, they won’t be able to get into your account.

For Yahoo users, you can implement two-step verification by following these steps:

  1. Log into your account and click on the gear in the upper right hand corner of your browser.
  2. Click on Account Info.
  3. Under Account Security, click on Two-step verification.
  4. Follow the steps to link your phone number to your account.

5) Keep your eyes and ears open

Stay ahead of hackers and online criminals by remaining constantly aware of what you’re doing online. Be mindful of phishing scams and emails that may ask you for account information or passwords. Hackers are becoming more sophisticated and these scams increasingly look like real requests from email providers, social media sites, and banks.

Think twice before giving away any personal information and use your common sense. For example, a bank will never ask you to send your personal information via email. If you get an email asking you to do so, check with the bank directly.

If you keep your eyes and ears open, you are less likely to fall victim to scams online.

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I'm an LA journalist who really lives for his profession. I have also published work as Jane Doe in various mags and newspapers across the globe. I normally write articles that can cause trouble but now I write for FTN because Nerds are never angry, so I feel safe.