Guard Your Personal Information in Online Postings
Many of us know the basics when it comes to protecting ourselves online: do not hand out financial information through insecure avenues, never let your guard down and always think about where and when you are going to meet someone if the encounter requires an in-person appearance. What many people do not consider, unfortunately, is the ease by which many identity thieves, spammers and scammers can obtain your personal information – sometimes not a lot but enough – and use it to either make money off or you or to directly take it from you. When it comes to advertising services, products or trying to make a simple sale, following these few pieces of advice will keep you and your identity safe.
Never Type Out E-mails or Phone Numbers
Automated scanners that take the shape of “bots” and individuals crawl internet postings for information such as e-mail addresses and phone numbers, which can then either be sold or used to obtain more information about an individual. In the vast majority of instances, these pieces of information are collected by bots that can only read text and do not look at other multimedia. Pingler has a great tool that will instantly convert your e-mail address into an image that will protect your identity from harvesters while simultaneously allowing individuals to contact you. It will not prevent information gathering in every instance, but it does block it in a vast majority of circumstances.
Never Describe the Exact Location
One of the biggest threats to your personal safety manifests whenever you take a photo of an item for sale that clearly shows where the item in question is located. There have been countless reports of individuals listing valuable items for sale, only to have their houses broken into and vandalised in search of the object. Make sure that your photos feature the item but not any discernible locations that would give any would-be thief the chance to find out where you live. Another high-tech way to ensure your privacy is to make sure that the photos do not have geo-tagging enabled, which can be decoded to find out where the picture was taken.
Never Provide Your Name Upfront
As crazy as it may sound, even a first name can be all a thief or opportunist needs to make some money off of your identity. For example, with a first name and a phone number, an individual can locate your last name fairly easy. From there, an address can be obtained, followed by property information and even your Social Security Number. An individual who directly contacts you via phone about a listing is almost never a scammer, so feel free to disclose your name at that point.
Watch Out For “Personal” E-mails
Sometimes, even when your email address is protected via image, individuals will attempt to contact you with an overly generic-sounding message about your ad. If the individual is asking questions that were clearly outlined in the email or is rambling in a tone that doesn’t sound native or related to this circumstance, do not reply. For many, an e-mail confirmation from you is all they need to begin doing the work of either selling or attempting to access your e-mail and personal information.