Identity Theft FAQ for Canadians

Identity Theft Canada >> How to Protect Your Privacy

How to Protect Your Privacy

Personal information is collected by many websites over the internet. Some are asking for data before the access is granted. You may be required to provide details such as your age and full name, phone number and address. Other methods that are employed by websites to acquire information is by recording the IP address of the visited pages. This is done through the placement of “cookies” on your computer. These are tiny text files that collect and store info such as: the IP address of your computer; the number of times the site is visited; your preferred language for browsing the internet; usernames and passwords; shopping card items; your name and alphanumeric character strings that can link to personal information.

The second time you visit a site, you’re identified by means of the stored information: so, you don’t have to do it again. On the other side, via cookies, many marketing networks and websites create profiles on the basis of the data provided. It is often done in order to serve advertising purposes.

The sites may forward your profile to an advertiser who may use it to place advertisement pop ups on your desktop. This information may be used to send mail ads for services and products that the advertiser assesses as interesting to you.

Once collected, the information can be shared or used for abusive purposes. It is quite difficult to find out what happens to personal information once it starts to circulate over the internet.

Your privacy is best protected by never providing information to websites, though it is not practical. It’s beneficial and convenient for many people to obtain services or shop on the internet at times. Personal information may be required for these activities. It is assumed that the companies will safeguard your personal data at all times. This is, however, not often the case. Some tips below will demonstrate how you can accomplish it by yourself.

    You can do any of the following:

  • Examine the privacy policies of the websites before any personal information is sent. This is highly recommended for the medical and financial sensitive data. Ask the site to clarify if you find it hard to understand the policy. Do not agree with something you do not comprehend.
  • Do not accept cookies from websites as the data may serve their marketing purposes. Provide as little personal information as possible.
  • Use software that does not reveal your real IP address to ensure anonymity.
  • When providing contact information to unknown third parties, use a different e-mail address that you can dispose of.
  • When purchasing products or services over the internet, insist on encrypted and secure web connection. The same is true for the online banking.
  • Read your e-mail messages offline and if possible, in text format only.
  • Use firewalls, anti-virus and anti-spam software, and make sure that you regularly update them. Always install the security patches for your OS.
  • Unknown senders’ attachments should never be opened.
  • E-mail account passwords should be changed on a regular basis.

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