Tips for protecting your info from online identity theft

By Marjorie Sturgeon, Web Content Editor
Last Updated: Saturday, October 26, 2013, 9:05 PM EDT

While Florida has the most identity theft complaints in the nation, according to a 2013 Federal Trade Commission report, a Daytona State College cyber-security expert says security is a matter of common sense.

As part of Cyber Security Awareness Month sponsored by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Dr. Philip Craiger, who teaches computer engineering at Daytona State College, has put the focus on protecting your information.

In Florida, the FTC said the top complaint for identity theft in 2012 was for government documents or benefits fraud, followed by credit card and bank fraud.

Summed up, the three main issues for online security, Dr. Craiger said, are privacy, availability and originality.

He offered the following tips for keeping your data safe:

  1. Have a backup of your data. It’s much easier to make a backup of your important information than to pay someone to recover your priceless data, if it can be recovered at all.
  2. Be careful what you click on. Always remember, if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Avoid replying or clicking on any link associated with this type of email.
  3. Use different usernames and passwords for every website. If someone is able to guess your username and password on one site, and you use the same for your banking site, bye-bye savings and checking account.
  4. Do not give out personal information on social websites. There is no reason to include personal information (phone number, address, social security number, or other identifying information) on any social website, no matter what their privacy policy states.
  5. Install and use anti-virus protection. The best way to prevent your computer from being infected is to use anti-virus (AV) protection. Some AV software is free (Microsoft Essentials), whereas others require payment (usually under $30).

Florida also led the nation with fraud and other complaints, according to the same FTC report.

If you think you’ve been the victim of identity theft, the FTC says you should take immediate action by creating an identity theft report and working with law enforcement to investigate the crime.