Keeping Your Identity Safe Online

This post is sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are my own.

Does anyone else feel personally victimized by your iPhone screen time alert every Sunday? For the last few months, while sheltering in place, my screen time has been increasing more and more. I’m spending more time on social media, browsing the web and shopping online and I know many of you have been too!

During this time when we are not just shopping online more often, but completely living online too – we need to be much more vigilant about protecting ourselves from cybercrimes, fraudulent activities and identity theft. These days, no one is safe from identity crime… sadly, not even toddlers! And our grandparents also aren’t the only ones who are becoming victims. Even the most tech savvy can fall for expert hacking. Keep reading to see how you can protect yourself from identity theft online.

Social Media

I work in social media full-time for a local communications agency. Not only have we seen a large uptick in social media usage, but we’ve also seen an uptick in spammy comments and profiles. On my own personal channels, I’ve been receiving many strange messages from accounts that appear to be fake. Protecting yourself on social media (which will protect yourself in life too!) can be difficult with the sheer number of hackers and “private” content that isn’t so private. To protect yourself on social media:

  • Make all of your accounts private and turn on extra privacy settings on Facebook
  • Never share your current location, especially if you’re alone
  • Don’t use your full name (first, middle and last) and don’t share common information used for passwords (mother’s maiden name, place you were born, etc.)
  • Use difficult to guess passwords, including characters and numbers and do not use the same password across all accounts.

Personal Identity Fraud

I have been a victim of credit card fraud one too many times. Luckily, the credit cards I own have amazing customer service and fraud identity alerts that almost always catch it and prevent it immediately. If you’ve experienced it, you know that it’s incredibly inconvenient and frankly kind of scary! These are all the things you should do if you’ve been a victim of identity fraud, and this is what I recommend to prevent becoming one:

  • Don’t share credit card information via text message or written communication.
  • Only shop online at stores with secured connection.
  • Don’t share your social security number, banking information or other personal information over the phone with unknown or unverified callers.
  • Use an identity protection service that alerts you when your information has been shared due to a security breach or hacking situation. Allstate is offering FREE identity protection through the end of the year if you sign up by 5/31/2020.

Phishing Scams

As a blogger and a former business owner, my email address is public and very easy to find. The number of phishing emails I’ve received over the years is astounding! Luckily, most go straight to spam. It is extremely important to be aware of current popular phishing scams and to be cautious of messages you receive.

  • If you receive an email with poor spelling and grammar, incomplete thoughts or sentences and all-around odd sounding language, it’s probably best to research further.
  • Do not click on any links in any emails without hovering over the link to ensure it goes where it’s supposed to go. If the link in an email does not match the link you see upon hovering, do not click on it.
  • If you receive an email from someone, or a business, and the email address does not match up with the person who sent the message, be careful about sending any information at all!

General Rules

In general, I’m a pretty cautious (maybe suspicious) person so I always check into situations to verify they’re legitimate before moving forward with providing information and offering my precious time! I almost never answer the phone because 9 times out of 10, it’s a robo-caller. (I hate that my phone rings at all, much less when it’s an unknown number and an automated message telling me I won a vacation!) I always live by these rules:

  • If it seems too good to be true, it probably is. Research, research, research to find reviews, legitimize businesses and get the real story on catfishes.
  • Don’t give personal information to people you don’t know. Easy.
  • If any money is being exchanged or meeting other people is involved, be extra cautious.
  • Do a gut test – ask someone else what they think about a situation before you move forward.

Don’t be scared. You can protect yourself as long as you remain vigilant against and educated on the tactics, as well as monitoring your identity continuously. In an age where we’re constantly forced to protect ourselves on all fronts, let your identity be the easiest to protect with just a few tactics and protections!

This post was written as part of the Allstate Influencer Program and sponsored by Allstate. All opinions are mine. As the nation’s largest publicly held personal lines insurer, Allstate is dedicated not only to protecting what matters most–but to guiding people to live the Good Life, every day.

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