It’s national identity fraud prevention week. Nearly 20 million pieces of personal information were illegally traded in the first six months of this year, according to CreditExpert.
CreditExpert conducted an experiment to demonstrate the risks we take with our personal information every day online. The experiment saw a volunteer, Steve, placed in a London shop front for a week with just a laptop for company. He was set a series of online challenges to determine how often, where and when, but most importantly, how securely personally identifiable information (e.g. name, email, data of birth data) was submitted – particularly the combination of a login and password which forms 90% of the market for illegally-traded information online.
The experiment revealed that despite being a web-savvy user, like many people Steve made basic security mistakes in his hurry to get things done. During the course of the week, he used the same password across multiple accounts, failed to update his web browser to a newer, more secure version and didn’t check that websites were secure by looking for the padlock icon when making online purchases.
To avoid your personal information being exposed or misused CreditExpert advise web users to take the following steps to protect themselves:
- Use a strong password and don’t use the same password for all your important accounts – Avoid familiar words, maiden names or anything that can be easily cracked (would you believe that one in 10 internet users have ‘1234’ as their password?!)
- If in doubt, don’t click – If a website looks dodgy or an online offer looks too good to be true, don’t click
- Know where your details go – If your personal details land in the wrong hands, within minutes people can gain access to your accounts. Protect yourself with a service like CreditExpert’s Web Monitoring, which alerts members by text or email at the first signs that their details have been compromised.