Playing It Safe With "Online Valentines"

By: By Adam Levin, Identity Theft 911
By: By Adam Levin, Identity Theft 911

Valentine’s Day is coming and we don’t want to ruin the romance … But while social networking and online dating sites are great ways to exchange information and sites that let you to post large amounts of personal and family information are great ways to stay in touch, they can also pose great dangers for Identity Theft.

Here are some tips from Adam Levin of Identity Theft 911 and to keep in mind to stay safe online:

Avoid Facebook and other social networking Web site quizzes that open the door on your personal info to the quiz developers.

Use strong passwords comprised of numbers, letters and symbols and change them often. Use different passwords for your social Web sites, personal life and financial life. If you can’t remember passwords, use secure programs such as “Password-Safe” for storing them.

Treat your laptop as if you know it’s going to be stolen. Use the password-prompt on start-up, and shut it down for the night when you are done. Consider using open-source encryption programs such as TrueCrypt.

Avoid unsecured public “Wi-Fi” networks at Internet cafes and coffee shops.

Use firewalls, anti-virus and anti-malware software and regularly, or automatically update them.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers in a misguided attempt to pad your Facebook numbers.

Be careful of clicking on links on social networking Web sites. They could lead to malicious code installation on your PC.

Be aware that even pictures can contain viruses, Trojan horse and worms. Don’t click on pictures just because they are cool, or “hot-looking.”

Log out of any social networking site when not in use. Use different log-ins for various sites.

Consider how much of your identifying information is posted on these sites. Are there photos that show the entire layout of your apartment and everything in it? Is your full birth date disclosed? Over-sharing is a bad idea for many reasons.

Protect your passwords and PINs
Don't use the last four digits of your SSN, your mother's maiden name, your date of birth, your middle name, your child's name, your pet's name, or anything else easily discovered or guessed.
Discourage your bank from using the last four digits of your SSN as your default PIN. If they do, change it.
Use a combination of letters and numbers and change your passwords frequently.

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