Protecting your Personal Information on the Internet


The Internet is home to a thriving criminal community actively looking for personal and financial information to be used for illegal gain. The major threats are:

  • Identity Theft
  • Malware and Adware

All Computers, Laptops, Smartphones, Tablets (Windows and Mac) are susceptible.

Identity Theft

Identity theft occurs when an unauthorized person wrongfully obtains and uses another person's personal information to commit fraud or deception, often for economic gain. Valuable information includes:

  • Name
  • Date of birth
  • Social Security Number
  • Driver's license number
  • Credit card number
  • Bank account number

To prevent identity theft:

General Tips
  • Do not give personal information over the phone, through the mail, via e-mail or on the Internet unless you are sure that the person or business you are dealing with is legitimate.
  • Keep all your personal and account information (especially cancelled checks) in a safe place, preferably a locked drawer or cabinet in your home.
  • Do not choose a PIN number that uses digits from a birth date, Social Security Number (SSN), telephone number, or street address.
  • Never write passwords on paper kept in a wallet or handbag.
  • Use a cross-cut shredder to destroy credit card offers, health insurance statements, and anything else containing your SSN or other personally identifiable information before discarding them.
Ground Mail
  • Never leave mail in public places, and always use a mailbox.
  • Stop mail delivery when you are on vacation.
  • Never write your account number on the outside of a payment envelope.
Social Security Number
  • Do not carry your Social Security card with you.
  • Only give out your SSN when absolutely necessary.
  • Request a non-SSN driver's license number.
  • Order your Social Security Earnings and Benefits Statement once a year from the Social Security Administration [(800) 772-1213] to verify your reported earnings.
Financial Accounts
  • Order new checks that use only your first initial with your last name.
  • Check to see if bankruptcy has been declared using your name.
Credit Cards
  • Every year, order a copy of your credit report from all three major credit reporting agencies to make sure it is accurate.
  • Sign your new or replacement card as soon as you receive it.
  • Keep a record of all credit card account and contact information in a secure place at home.
  • If a bill does not arrive on time, contact your credit card company.
  • Compare receipts and billing statement regularly.
  • Carry only the credits cards you think you will need on a given day.
  • When using your credit card to make a purchase, keep an eye on the clerk during the transaction.
  • Don't use any automatic log-in with password feature.
  • Configure your computer to automatically download and install operating system updates.
  • Update virus protection regularly.
  • Install a firewall program, especially if you have a high-speed Internet connection.
  • Install an anti-spy program that searches and destroys spy software.
  • Don't store financial information on your laptop; if you must, use a password to protect it.
  • When you make an online purchase, be sure you are in a secure section of the Web site, with the address "https" and a lock in the browser

Malware and Adware

The best way to avoid spyware and adware is to only visit reputable, known Web sites, and to avoid installing "helpful" free programs on your computer (such as screen savers or Tool bars). Be careful when closing a pop-up window; many of them offer a button for you to click to cancel or ignore it. In reality, this installs the unwanted software on your computer. Instead, always close the entire window that the pop-up opened in by clicking on the X in the upper right-hand corner, or by right-clicking on the window's tab on the Start Tool bar and selecting Close.



Article ID: 64764
Tue 10/9/18 12:24 PM
Wed 3/8/23 9:59 AM