We live in an age of technology and sharing. It’s easier than ever before to share your thoughts, photographs and details about your personal life online using social media. In fact, more than two-thirds of Americans use social networking sites and that number is growing every year.
However, there is such a thing as too much sharing. Some information should never be reveal willy-nilly because it could greatly damage your financial future. Here are a few tips to keep your personal information safe online and reduce your risk of identity fraud.
Unzipping Your Zip Code
Some security tips go without saying: never share your social security number and don’t post images of your credit card online. But did you know another number could expose your personal information? Your zip code, believe it or not, can reveal a great deal about you and your family. Not to mention that zip codes, along with a stolen credit card, make you a victim of financial fraud and identity theft.
While zip codes are often necessary to validating your identity or processing payments (for example, providing your zip code when paying with credit card at the gas pump), other times it is used by retailers to create a profile on you and track your buying habits. By sharing this information, retailers will often sell your information to third-party advertisers which can then spam your phone, email and mailbox with unwanted messages.
Telling the difference between reasonable and unreasonable requests for your zip code is easy once you know what to look for. If you are processing a payment online, you are A-Okay. If you are asked to share your phone number, address or zip code at the register or in a one-off submission, it’s almost definitely for marketing purposes. If it’s for a service provided based on your location, it could go either way (see below).
Still, the most dangerous information you can give out is your birthdate. This, along with your name and hometown can be sued to recreate your social security information. All of which is easily found on your Facebook page. If you want to protect your privacy, think about obscuring your year of birth on your profile at the very least, or ensuring that only friends can see your information.
Is It Safe to Get a Quote?
One of the great things about the internet is your ability to shop around, compare prices and find the most affordable solutions best fit for you and your family. For example, if you are hoping to get home insurance quotes, there are a few things you need to look out for to make sure you are getting the best deal for the information you share.
Most legitimate sites will save some of your information for the purposes of delivering a service or providing more accurate quotes based on your zip code and location. They may even work with third-party agencies to prevent fraud, which is great. What you need to be warry of is them selling your information to third-party advertisers at will.
This simple policy check will vastly improve your experience getting home insurance quotes, car insurance quotes and much more.
Stay Smart & Stay Suspicious
In closing, it’s important to remember that the information you share online can always be tied back to you. It’s up to you to decide if that’s okay with you. If you are providing a website or service with your personal information, consider their intentions and what that could mean for you down the line. Stay suspicious, stay smart and stay safe!