One way to protect your credit score is to guard your financial information. Before e-commerce and online banking, we didn’t have to work so hard to protect our financial identity. However, a determined enough hacker can access whatever information he or she would like to gain.

Luckily, you can take steps to safeguard your financial information and keep the identity thieves away, so they never have the chance to compromise your credit score or steal your money. In this article, we share some essential tips to protect your identity.

Use Strong Passwords and Keep Those Passwords Secret

You’d be surprised how many people use the same password for all their accounts. Even worse, the password these people choose is very predictable, like their birthday or home address. Instead, you must create unique passwords for every online account you have. Then, you must store those passwords in a safe place, like a secure password manager. Dashlane and LastPass are two examples of secure password managers that keep all your passwords safe and in one centralized place. Finally, never share your passwords with friends.

Make Sure Your Computer Security is Up-to-date

If you use your computer for any financially related tasks, it is essential that you have personal firewalls and security software packages in place.  These software programs should include anti-virus, anti-spam, and spyware detection.  Furthermore, you want to always make sure your computer has the most up-to-date security software.  This includes any security patches, making sure your updates are set to occur automatically and that the software is always kept on.

Any computer software and hardware providers are also a great source information.  They typically will have tips for how to go about how to check and improve the security of your system.

Consider Your Wireless Connection

Do you often go to coffee shops and other public places to use a shared WiFi signal? Public WiFi can be a blessing, especially if you’re lacking cell phone service or need to get some work done. However, you should be careful when using these WiFi networks, since they don’t usually have wireless encryption. An identity thief on the same wireless network could potentially intercept your information.

Shop on Secure, Reputable Websites

Before you make your next purchase from an e-commerce website, make sure you trust the website and that it has a solid reputation. Sites like Amazon and eBay have millions of customers, so you know that you can trust them. However, you may sometimes need to buy something more specialized from a smaller, lesser-known website. If you’re not sure, do a Google search and see if you can find any complaints or reviews about the website.

Furthermore, when you visit a website, take a look at the URL.  You want to see “https” before the website name. This means the site being secured with a SSL Certificate.  So, all data that is passing from your browser to your server is secure.  If the website begins with “http”, it is not secure.

Be Smart About Responding to Emails

Know the difference between legitimate emails and emails from scammers. If you’re not sure, do not respond with any personal information. No bank or financial institution will ever ask you for your financial information over email.   For this reason, you should never share any type of financial information with someone who requests it. Even if you know and trust the sender of the email, you may want to hold off on sharing any personal information this way. Instead, pick up the phone and share it in a phone conversation.