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How to keep your information safe online

by Mic Johnson

When it comes to technology, it seems everything and everyone is online. Whether it’s social media or online shopping, limiting your virtual footprint isn’t easy. For those interested in harvesting your data, all it takes is a few pieces of information to steal your identity. But, as the dependence on online interaction grows, knowing how to stay safe can make things easier. Here’s the list of best background check services. 

Stop Disclosing Your Personal Information on Social Media

We’ve all seen the friend that shares everything online, from their breakfast to their dog’s birthday party, without any regard for their safety. Staying safe and secure online means limiting the amount of information you share through social media, including posts, comments, or photos. Those wanting to steal your data are likely to skim through posts asking for the first street you grew up on, your birthday (disguised as your drunken elf name), or your maiden name. With select pieces of information, your data can be quickly harvested. That’s why it’s always a good idea to limit your interactions with posts asking for random bits of information. The less you share on social media, the better.

Make Sure Your Devices are Password Protected

Cell phones, tablets, laptops, and watches are the newest way to harvest your identification, which is relatively simple to accomplish if you don’t protect your device. These services are often minimal in cost but can save you a considerable headache if your device turns up missing. Always make sure to password protect your items using alpha-numeric passwords, biometrics (like fingerprints or face scanners). If that’s not possible, always make sure your data is backed up and protected on a cloud-based server. Likewise, most companies allow data blocking from their website, meaning you’ll be able to prevent access quickly.

Perform Factory Resets When Selling Your Items

Many people believe that deleting the information from your device gets rid of it forever, but that’s not the case. These files can be stored within the device’s hard drive, easily accessible to someone that knows what they’re doing. Before selling any device, always make sure you perform a system reset or factory reboot. This action prevents access to previously downloaded files (including sensitive information), keeping you safe online.

Use Prepaid Credit Cards for Online Purchases

With online shopping increasing in popularity, almost all retailers are offering some virtual payment system. Unfortunately, not all connections are equal. Without having the proper certificates, your credit card details may be exposed and open for the taking. On top of that, many phishing scams will create legitimate-looking websites in hopes of gathering confidential information to use later. These can include selling financial information, stealing your identity, or making unauthorized purchases online. Prepaid credit cards often have a single-use functionality, meaning you can’t rack up thousands of dollars worth of debt. They will often work online, allowing you to make purchases safely, without giving up your financial information.

Regularly Pull a Background Check

The easiest way to keep your information safe online is to know what’s happening with your data. A reliable background check company like Check People can create PDF documents of all your data into an easy-to-read report. You’ll be able to quickly verify any financial accounts, criminal history (identity theft can name you in illegal activities as well), and current residence. If you notice anything opened without your consent, contact the company and the police immediately. Once reported, always make sure to monitor the background check to ensure it stops.

Always Opt for Multi-Step Verification

Multi-step verification forces users to enter a code sent to their specified mobile device (or email address on file) to access the account. If someone attempts to log in to your account, they won’t access anything without the code. You’ll also get a heads up that someone has messed with your account and password if you received a request you didn’t initiate.

This method of verification offers additional security to sensitive accounts online. Banking, financial institutions, photographs, and social media accounts often contain private details we don’t want to be shared. Although it may take a few extra moments to log into your account, knowing others can’t access the information is worth the time you’d otherwise save.

Switch Up Your Passwords

Far too often, people will stick with one or two generic passwords that they use for every account. While this may be easy to remember, multiple accounts may quickly become compromised if someone uncovers this pattern. Whenever possible, use a randomized password generator to make any password for your profiles online. You can use an encrypted password manager to store this information, so trying to memorize them isn’t impossible. If that seems too difficult, try to have a different password for every significant account type you have. That means keeping your banking password separate from your email password.

It’s also a good idea to keep any password autofill turned off; if your device is stolen, you’ve given complete access to the thief, including your private financial information. Again, although this may seem longer to fulfill, you’ll be grateful in the event of a theft.

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