Not all crimes happen on the streets. They can also occur in the comforts of your home while you’re sleeping and the door is locked.
These days, perpetrators have numerous ways to commit a crime online. In an identity fraud study released in 2017, more than 15 million US consumers had their information and money stolen. The crime, meanwhile, amounted to a whopping $16 billion.
On the other hand, Puresight has frightening statistics on online predators: One in five teens received an unwanted sex solicitation online, but only 25 percent tell their parents. Worst, all of the victims to the crime have willingly met with their abusers offline.
One can never doubt the influence and benefits of using online media, but since it’s also become both a playing and breeding ground for criminals, it now pays to be more cautious. You can begin with learning how to keep your privacy online:
Social Media Accounts
- Don’t add people you don’t know.
- Check your friends’ and followers’ lists regularly.
- Mind the comments and the likes. Are there strangers active in liking and commenting on your posts? It’s possible they are already stalking you and trying to get your attention.
- Never entertain any requests for meet-ups from people you haven’t seen in a long time or don’t know.
- If you’re a parent, as much as possible, don’t let your kids use any electronic device or sign up for a social media account unless they’re already 13 years old. Even then, monitor their use. Request for their passwords or activate parental controls.
- Don’t post any personal information online, such as the places you’re planning to go to or where you are right now.
Online Shopping and Credit Cards
- Only buy from reputable online sellers and shops.
- Avoid displaying images or videos showing any of your financial information.
- Keep track of your credit card statement regularly.
- Work closely with your bank. If there’s a huge suspicious transaction on your credit card, let them alert you through e-mail or call right away. You also need to inform them if you’re traveling and planning to use your card.
- Do not download any software or application on your desktop or mobile device if you have no idea where it came from or what it does.
- Don’t sign up on websites and e-mail lists that you are not familiar.
- Clear your cache regularly.
- Run the anti-virus software at least once every three days and turn on the firewall.
- Improve your security controls. Block websites you think are suspicious.
- Do not open attachments immediately. To be safe, verify from the sender if his or her email contains one and if he or she intends you to open it.
- Be careful of phishing emails. They are usually emails that sound and look legitimate, but they usually redirect you to an unsecured website (it doesn’t have https://) or a completely different landing page. Emails from banks are the most commonly phished emails, so always check with your bank if they indeed sent an announcement or an email to your account asking for a change in password or access to your account.
Besides these, there are two major rules you should follow: trust your instinct and always report to the authorities if you believe you are being attacked or have become a victim of an online crime.