How to Protect Your Online Identity

Most of us don’t actively worry about taking steps to protect our online identity. However, the statistics are alarming. In the USA, there were over half a million cases in 2019. 

It more than doubled in 2020 to around 1,300,000. 

Unfortunately, this can happen to anyone. But there are steps you can take to protect your online identity, just like you do offline.

 

Update Your Software

It can be tempting to delay software updates on your smart devices. 

Even though it just takes a few minutes, we have to make time to power down and restart our phones, computers, laptops, and smartwatches. 

However, it is crucial to complete these updates as soon as possible.

The purpose of software updates isn’t just to get new features but also to fix bugs and security loopholes. 

Recently there was a significant security breach on iPhones that Apple quickly resolved with an update. The people who didn’t install it are still at risk.

 

Use Strong Passwords

We all have a friend or family member who uses their pet’s name as their password for everything. This is an unsafe practice. 

Not only should you have strong passwords for all your accounts, but you should also use a different password for everything. 

Even variations of the same password are a terrible idea. 

Ideal passwords are more than ten characters long, and they use upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols. 

It is also important to never include personal information in your password. 

Whenever possible, password managers and two-factor authentication can help protect your accounts. 

 

Stay on Top of Popular Scams

In our offline lives, we all research ways to stay safe. We check a neighbourhood’s safety before renting or buying property and look up safety ratings on cars. 

Even checking the weather forecast is a form of a regular safety check. But few people actively stay up to date on popular scams.

Scam Detector is a great resource that offers a newsletter on scams to look out for. Unfortunately, there are always new scams showing up. But the most successful ones have been around for a while. It is a good idea to familiarise yourself with the10 most popular scams to learn how to avoid them.

 

Be Careful When Shopping Online

People used to be nervous about shopping online, but this has changed over the years. Today, everyone shops online, and we tend to trust most websites. 

This is why online shopping fraud grew at the rate of 30% in 2017, and it has only gotten worse.

Many shopping scams will only take your money and don’t send you the product. This is often done with really cheap products because if the stolen amount is small, people will likely let it go without reporting it.

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Smart Shopping: Online Shopping Fraud is growing rapidly each year

However, it is possible to get into more serious trouble with online shopping scams. It can even result in identity theft. 

Before you make any purchases online, there are a few steps you should take:

  • Check reviews by other users.
  • Check the stores rating with the Better Business Bureau.
  • Use a secure, encrypted connection.
  • Shop on websites that start with https rather than the less secure http.
  • Pay with PayPal or another method that will get your money back if you don’t receive the product.

There are many ways to help protect your online identity. 

You can even pay for services that can keep you safe. More than anything, it is crucial to be vigilant and not let your guard down. 

You should also update your software regularly, keep your passwords strong, stay updated on popular scams, and be careful shopping online.

Photos: Shutterstock


Staying on top of online scams is pivotal to protect your online identity – here are some of the ones to watch:

Better Safe Than Sorry: 5 Common Internet Scams

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