Republic of the Philippines
Have you ever had your identity stolen online? How will you safeguard your online identity?
Early last year, a public school teacher named Mark Joseph Lontok posted his Professional Regulation Commission ID on his Facebook account shortly after passing his Board exams. What was supposed to be an act of pride over a major accomplishment soon turned into a major source of regret for Lontok. For posting his ID without blurring the important details, this poor teacher’s identity was stolen online. Now, he is reportedly stuck with almost a million pesos’ worth of debt, as the identity thief used his identity to make loans to three banks.
Whether you are using your computer at home, in school or in the workplace, you need to protect your online identity. Here are some tips to protect yourself and/or your organization from identity theft:
TIP 1: AVOID HAVING ONE PASSWORD FOR ALL OF YOUR ONLINE ACCOUNTS.
Having just one password for all of your online accounts increases the possibility of you losing access to all of your accounts in case your password is hacked. Use a different password for each of the online accounts that you own.
TIP 2: MAKE YOUR PASSWORD AS UNIQUE AS POSSIBLE.
Did you know that the more complicated your password is, the harder it is for hackers to crack the code? IT security experts recommend creating a password that is a combination of both lowercase and uppercase letters, digits and, if possible, common punctuation marks and even ASCII symbols. However, avoid pattern combinations such as “A1B23C4D”. Instead, think of long, complicated, words-numbers-character combination passwords that make no sense but are definitely unique. For example, avoid using “Juan1234”. Instead, use something uniquely weird like “Pusod_ng_Garapata_1968” or “Guwapong_Arabuhok_1979”.
TIP 3: USE PASSWORD MANAGERS AND TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION.
Password manager systems strengthen your unique password by encrypting it, while two-factor authentication only grants you access to your account after you successfully hurdle a series of authentication processes. An example is the two-step verification process that Google sometimes requires before you gain access to your own Google account. Encryption of your password and more complicated authentication processes make it harder for hackers to hack your password.
TIP 4: BEWARE OF FREE WI-FI.
Avoid the temptation to avail of free wi-fi in a public place, for it is very easy for hackers to pretend to be something they are not. Don’t automatically assume that just because you are in Juana’s Eatery and you find a wi-fi source named Official_Juanas_Eatery, that you are tapping into Juana Eatery’s official wi-fi internet source. Ask around first. Better yet, just avoid the free wi-fi. Use the internet service in your own device instead.
TIP 5: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOUR MOUSE CLICKS ON.
Pop-up ads, as well as files and attachments from unknown senders are potential sources of viruses, or worse, make your account highly vulnerable to identity theft. Avoid the temptation to open these files.
TIP 6: CHECK THE PADLOCK ICON AND THE CERTIFICATE. Just because you can see the padlock symbol and the words “https” on a URL doesn’t automatically mean it’s a secure site. If you’re unsure about any website, even if you can see the words “https” and the padlock symbol, type the URL of the website you’re supposed to visit instead to visit your desired website.
TIP 7: CHECK THE E-MAIL ADDRESSES.
Always remember that outgoing e-mail will show the sender’s e-mail address. Incoming e-mail will not display the sender’s e-mail address.
TIP 8: SAFEGUARD YOUR COMPUTER.
Always make sure the anti-virus software on your computer is always the latest edition, to prevent your computer from being vulnerable to viruses.
TIP 9: BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU POST.
A hacker can easily steal your identity, based on what you post online – your professional information, for example (where you work, what your designation is). If you’re out of the house and away on vacation, resist the urge to provide the lovely details of your vacation online. If you’re unlucky, you might come home from your vacation to a house that’s completely empty, because you’ve unwittingly given information to thieves that you’re on vacation and your house is free for them to ransack.
TIP 10: MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT EVER POST YOUR ID’S ONLINE, ESPECIALLY YOUR GOVERNMENT ID’S SUCH AS YOUR BIR, SSS AND TIN ID’S!
These are ID’s that are considered among the primary sources of your identity in the Philippines. Avoid the fate that befell Mark Joseph Lontok. Do not have anyone else borrow money on your behalf without your knowledge. Never, ever expose the sensitive information contained in these cards online.
Beginning next year, Filipinos should be able to borrow money from financial institutions based on one’s credit-worthiness. This will be made possible with the help of the credit information system of the CREDIT INFORMATION CORPORATION.