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With all the reports of smartphones being hacked, social media accounts compromised, and personal data being stolen from online services and retailers – how safe is my data?

Companies and organisations that store and use your information have under law the responsibility to protect that data. But as in recent high profile media stories that does not always hold true. You can take simple precautions to protect yourself and your identity from theft, fraud and misuse.

When purchasing online for example ask yourself: who is collecting the information? Is it necessary? What will the company or organisation do with it? If it gets misused what are the consequences for me?

If you’re in doubt, can you check the company out – phone them, look them up on Google street maps, run a free company check at company’s house, or do a web search. See if details on the website match other information about them. If in any doubt, walk away.

We get so used to filling in automatically the details required. So when prompted for your full name, full address, date of birth, telephone number, national insurance number, or previous address among others, take time to stop and ask if it’s really needed. Most of the information in this list is enough for someone to use you to get false identities, passports, and in a recent report get a dead man’s name changed by deed poll for use in high level fraud.

One of the simplest ways to protect your online data is to use complex passwords. Make sure you DO NOT use your mother’s maiden name, child’s name, pet’s name, or other references to family and friends. Use where possible a random mixtures of numbers and letters, and the longer the better. Above all MAKE SURE you use different passwords for different web sites. I know it’s a pain, but better that, than have your bank account emptied because of a simple preventative step.

So how safe is you data? Well it is as good as the people that it is held with, and more importantly is as good as the information you enter and the passwords you use to secure it. So if in doubt, listen to yourself, and ask the question why?

 

 

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