Identity theft - How to protect yourself online

Don’t fall foul to fraudsters. Follow our internet safety tips to keep your personal information out of the wrong hands.

1. You’re unique, your passwords should be too

Using the same password for everything, in case you forget them all? Or believe you’ve created a password scheme even the crème de la crème of codebreakers wouldn’t crack? It’s just not worth the risk now that fraudsters are inventing more sophisticated phishing methods. Make sure every single password you set is unique.

2. Don’t pick passwords yourself

Use a password manager to generate secure random passwords for you, store them and sync them across multiple devices.

3. Double-up on your security

Turn on two-step verification whenever you’re given the option. Having a second line of defence will give you extra peace of mind and make the fraudsters’ job that much tougher.

4. Use the six-digit security pin on your phone

If your phone’s locked when it gets stolen it prevents the thief from accessing any of your personal data. As an additional security measure, you can also set your phone to wipe its data if the pin’s entered incorrectly too many times.

5. Always update

Ensure all your software is regularly updated. You should receive notifications when updates are available (you can enable automatic updates on all your devices) but you can also update manually.

6. Protect your computer

If your computer ends up in the wrong hands, you can make sure none of your personal data does, by enabling full disk encryption. Enable FileVault on a Mac and turn on BitLocker in Windows.

7. Have back-up

Always back everything up on an external hard drive, so should you lose everything, you’re able to restore it all. Don’t just rely on Cloud storage as they’re also vulnerable to hacking.

8. Install security software

Make sure your computer is protected with anti-virus software that looks for and removes viruses, and anti-spyware which prevents any tracking of your activities or scanning for personal information.

9. Protect your wireless network

Ensure your wireless network is secure so people living nearby can’t access it. If you set it up with a wireless ‘key’ only people with the correct password can connect to your network. You can do this easily by reading the instructions that come with your router.

10. Stay safe shopping online

Check you’re using a secure website before you enter any personal details. Things to look out for to be certain a website is secure, include:

  • Website addresses should start with ‘https’ – the ‘s’ stands for secure
  • A green address bar
  • A padlock symbol where the website address appears though this may not always guarantee safety. If you have any doubts about the site you’re visiting it’s best to leave it (also beware of sites where the padlock appears on the web page)
  • A current security certificate that is registered to the correct address (which should appear when you click on the padlock)

11. Check your credit report

It’s always a good idea to check your credit report regularly for anything you don’t recognise. With a CreditExpert or ID Plus subscription, you can also lock your Experian Credit Report to help protect yourself from fraudsters applying for credit in your name.