It feels like it’s becoming harder and harder to keep your identity private. What with credit card fraud rife, data leaks the norm, and hey, even exes or other people you don’t want tracking you down.
While it can be difficult to scrub your identity from the internet, if you’ve already put a lot out there, there are plenty of ways in which you can try and keep your identity private.
Personal details like your name, address, date of birth, phone number, etc. can be used to uniquely identify you. Let’s check out how you can make all of this personal identification more private.
Remove your details from the phone directory
If you’re younger, your details probably aren’t into the phone directory still to begin with. But if you are older, your full name, address, and telephone are right there for anyone to look up (if they get their hands on a directory or call information services).
Check to see if you are still in the phone directory and if you are, then kindly ask to be removed from it.
Hey, look, there is your full name and your picture on all your social media accounts! While many people keep their accounts private, most people will still have their full name and profile picture readily available for people to look up.
Change your name on social media to your nickname and your last name to something ambiguous – or your full name to something different. You can choose to change your profile picture to a group shot, or a picture of something else if you’d like to be extra private. While it can be confusing for your friends, it certainly keeps your identifying personal information private.
Put a lock on your letterbox
One way that identity thieves go about committing identity fraud is through grabbing mail out of your letterbox and using those details instead of their own. This can be particularly damaging if they intercept something like a license in the post (which is a valid form of ID).
Secure your mailbox by ensuring it’s made of tough material, then attach a lock to it too, to deter would-be mail thieves.
Think before you sign up for things online (and in-person)
There are a million different things that you can sign up online (and in real life) that ask for your personal details. These can be services like Netflix, charities, or even just newsletter subscriptions to something like your favorite gaming website or clothing company.
Have a careful think about the company you’re giving your details to. Do you trust them? Are they likely to have fortified data security? Netflix certainly does, but that gaming newsletter? Well, maybe not. If it’s not required, there’s no harm in creating an account with a different name and identifying details, and only a secondary email address as an important field. Using a secondary email address for spam-like mail (instead of your usual email address) is a smart move for these types of sign-ups.
Lock your devices and don’t use biorecognition
While locking your devices might be a given for most people, it goes without saying that you should lock all electronic devices. This is in case it falls into someone else’s hands where they now have access to all your accounts and potentially personally-identifying information.
Biometric information (like facial recognition or your fingerprint) is more about not giving the device makers (and potential hackers) access to this identifying info.
Encrypt your data at rest
You might have all sorts of personally-identifying information kept on your laptop or phone. There are various ways in which you can encrypt your data at rest. This means that if someone manages to access your device when you aren’t using it, that all the information on it will be encrypted, or scrambled, so unreadable.
You can read about how to encrypt data on Windows 10 devices here, for example.
Use a VPN
Your internet traffic goes directly to your home. Which is attached to an IP address. If anyone is listening on the line, and the internet traffic is not encrypted, they may be about to deduce your street address from your IP address.
By using a VPN, all internet traffic between you and the VPN’s server is encrypted. This means anyone trying to trace your traffic will only be able to potentially find the street address of the VPN server.
Ensure any betting sites you use comply with local jurisdictions
Many people like to put on a bet every now and then, whether it’s sports, poker, or the slots. Just make sure that you are doing it with legitimate companies, especially when leveraging no deposit bonus code USA casinos. These are companies who comply and are allowed to serve your local jurisdiction.
There are plenty of scam and illegal sites out there, so giving away all your personal information to these people (including copies of ID and your credit card details!) is really running the gauntlet.
See if any of your accounts have had their data compromised
Here’s an easy check that you can do to see whether any services/websites that have your email on file have had a data breach. Visit Have I Been Pawned? and enter your email address/es. If it returns that your email has been involved in a data breach at a particular company, visit and change your password, and if this password is the same or similar to other accounts you use, go and visit them and change them, too.
Never reuse or use similar passwords
Following on from the last point there, never reuse passwords for this very reason! Your password could be involved in a data breach and on display for the entire internet to see (along with your associated email). People can easily try other popular websites with the same email/password combination to gain access. For example, if your password for Gmail is 123gmail, it’s easy enough to guess that your password for Outlook might be 123outlook.
We hope this has been a useful guide to keeping your personal details safe both offline and online. Stay safe legally, and you will never regret it!