5 Tips to Keep your ID Safe Online

With tax time just around the corner it’s not only a good time to do a little financial spring cleanup, but it’s also a great time to take some precautions to avoid identity theft. ID theft results in billions of dollars lost each year, and tax time identity theft is riskier than ever. ID thieves can get ahold of your tax refund simply with your social security number and name!

How can you protect yourself in our increasingly digital (and complex) world? I share my advice.

5 simple tips to help you protect your identity

how to keep your identity safe online

1) Don’t go mobile. I know it’s convenient and easy, using mobile technology to pay bills, transfer funds, or even deposit checks isn’t always safe. If you must use your smartphone or tablet with secure financial info be sure to do so only on you home wifi network (which should be password protected) and clear all your history and cookies when you are done.

Tip: Use a complex password for your technology so if your laptop, iPad or phone is stolen the thieves won’t be able to easily access your stored information.

2. Look before you click.  Don’t click a link or enter your credit card information into any website before checking on a few things. If you’re concerned about a link-just don’t open it. You can right-click to copy the address and paste it into a document or your browser bar without clicking on it. This will help you see the link, and figure out if it’s really taking you where you want to go.

If you are purchasing online consider using one particular card and monitor it carefully. Some credit card companies even offer a special ‘online’ credit card number that is not your actual credit card number to help ward off theft. Look for the S after http in your browser-if you don’t see it, it’s not a secure site, and you should not enter any sensitive data.

3. Go paperless when possible. Whenever possible choose paperless options for bills, statements, and any other paperwork you can. While it’s possible to steal your identity online it’s much less likely that sensitive papers will be viewed by anyone but you.

4. Update your passwords. Be sure to change your passwords monthly or quarterly to prevent ID theft. Choose a complex password, and do not use the same password for every account. If you need to track your passwords you can use a program like LastPass or 1Password (for Mac) to keep track of passwords, create an encrypted document on your computer, or go old school and use a pen and paper (just be sure to put it in a lockbox or safe when you are done using it).

5. Know how identity theft happens. Knowing the risk factors. Learn how identity theft can happen. These are key to helping you understand how to prevent ID theft.

Tip: Enroll in a credit monitoring or identity monitoring program such as Identity Guard that will alert you when your identity or credit is used. This will allow you to have peace of mind and not get hit with thousands of dollars in unexpected bills.

Have you ever had your identity stolen? What tips and advice do you have to keep your identity safe?

Kelly

Disclosure: This service was provided to me for review at no charge. In addition I received monetary compensation. All opinions are my own.

About Kelly Whalen


Kelly Whalen is the founder of The Centsible Life, a blog where motherhood and money meet. Her goal is to help readers live well on less. Kelly is a mom to 4, and loves that she can stay at home with her kids, and still pursue her passions for writing, personal finance, and social media. You can often find her on twitter and Facebook talking money and motherhood.

  • http://twitter.com/Babypop Sherry Aikens

    Thanks for the reminder and great tips.   I had my card stolen about 6 months ago.   I was impressed how quick the CC notified me.  

  • Jessica @FoundtheMarbles

    Great tips, Kelly.   Can I add another one? Add more passwords.   After having our identities stolen several years ago, my husband and I added extra passwords to all of our credit card accounts.   Now we can’t make any changes without the second password.  

  • Moneysavingenthusiast

    I may just have to go completely paperless. Thanks for the tip.
    Also, you have to watch wait staff  at the restaurants. Never give them your debit card. I had one give herself a raise while I was on vacation. I noticed it later and I told on her.   Even watch people at the drive through. I had an attendant put his back to the glass and I could tell he was writing something down. I think he was trying to take my credit card info. I called the restaurant right away and my card company. Luckily nothing happened but I never saw him at that restaurant again.

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Wow-that’s so not ok! I’m sure he was fired over that. Some people recommend using one card for everyday purchases, and another for online purchases. However you slice it though you have to be vigilant and careful with your money and your identity.  

  • http://twitter.com/AndreaUpdyke Andrea(LilKidThings)

    I purchased some toys for my son online at a major retailer in January. Then a few hours later “I” bought some train tickets in SPAIN! Thankfully, we caught it right away because we monitor our activity pretty obsessively. Our bank dealt with it but I still have no idea how it happened. We didn’t find any viruses and the site was supposedly secure. Scary stuff. Needless to say, I will be shopping that store locally from now on.

    • http://www.thecentsiblelife.com/ Kelly Whalen

      Wow! I hope you had a good time in Spain. ;) It’s definitely one of the reasons I’m not overly fond of shopping online. I tend to only use major retailers and even then I carefully watch my account.  

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