5 Ways Women Can Keep Their Personal Information Private

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The thought of someone stealing personal information isn’t a pleasant one. Whether that person is a hacker who wants to get into your bank accounts, a criminal who wants to take your identity, or a stalker who needs personal information about you, you want to be careful with your personal information. Discover some ways that women like you can engage in some simple information safety practices, such as shredding documents and watching for suspicious emails and phone calls.

Get a Shredder

Image via Flickr by iowa_spirit_walker

Paper bills, bank statements, and professional communications that address you by name all need to be shredded. These materials usually contain account numbers and other personal details that you shouldn’t throw in the trash. Get a shredder that cuts paper into tiny pieces, not big strips. Shred any document that has personal information on it when you no longer need the document. Then you can recycle the bags of paper cuttings and feel confident that no one will be able to steal your personal details from within the shredding.

Be Careful With Public Wi-Fi Use

Public Wi-Fi connections are easier for hackers to break into. Anytime you’re using a public Wi-Fi connection, avoid logging into any of your personal accounts, including bank accounts, email accounts, social media, and more. If you absolutely have to access an account, use cellular data instead of public Wi-Fi. If you’re using a computer, get a VPN (virtual private network) first. While a VPN might slow your data access, it will protect your personal information.

Block Your Number From Caller ID

Image via Flickr by garryknight

What is caller ID on your smartphone? This display shows a phone number when someone calls you. Many women use one phone for business and personal needs. Every time you call someone, that person’s caller ID will display your number. Since blocking your number may cause important contacts not to answer your calls, setting your phone to block your number permanently isn’t a good option for many people.

Instead, you can manually choose the times you want to block your number when you place certain calls. This way, you control who gets your contact information and who doesn’t. If someone gets your phone number and you don’t want that person to have it, you can always do the reverse and block the number from your phone. Many devices that access the T-Mobile network, for example, allow you to block specific numbers so that you have control over who contacts you.

Remove Personal Data From Old Hard Drives

Each time you get a new device, you need to remove all your personal data from the old hard drive. But you need to do more than cut and paste your files to the cloud or a new storage location. Get special software to remove personal data from your hard drive, such as DBAN, which you run from a disc or a USB device. When you’re wiping an old phone, a factory reset will destroy all your data, so do this task before selling, giving away, or disposing any electronic devices containing stored information.

Watch Out for Phishing Scams

When hackers can’t get your personal information, they send you emails pretending to be companies you use to manage your personal accounts. They tell you to click a link or download something, and then they infect your computer with malware. For example, if you get a suspicious email from your bank that asks you to download documents, don’t click on any links.

Sometimes, hackers call you and try to get your personal information by telling you a problem has occurred with one of your accounts. Sometimes, hackers might already have access to certain personal information, such as your credit card number, and they need the security code on the back of your card. Don’t give out any information over the phone. Ask for contact information, then hang up. Verify the phone call with the information they claim to represent before doing anything else.

Fear should never dictate how you live your life, but you should take some extra care to keep your personal information protected. Be vigilant about how you use public Wi-Fi and who has access to your phone numbers, bank and credit card accounts, and data stored on your digital devices.