Michelle De Mooy: Hi! I'm Michelle De Mooy with Consumer Action and today I'm going to talk to you about practical tips for protecting your privacy when you're online. Despite with some have said privacy is not dead, in fact it's alive and kicking. Consumers across all spectrums, age, income and ethnicity have stressed the importance of privacy. Though, for the most part you trade your anonymity for access to websites. There are a few commonsense ways to protect your privacy.
The first is using settings available to you on your computer and on websites. Security and privacy settings exist on every computer and mobile device. If you aren't sure how to set them, try emailing the company or visit the webpage of an advocacy group, like privacy rights clearinghouse or the electronic frontier foundation.
This simple step will both decrease your chance of being a victim of identity or data theft as well as provide some protection from unwanted tracking by advertisers and marketers. Also many websites offer privacy settings that can limit what the public can see and what they can't, but remember you may not be able to change the default setting for many sharing sites like social networks, so still be aware of what you're posting online, because once posted, always posted.
You can assume that the things you post online will be there forever. Photos are notoriously problematic because they generally depict other people who may or may not be okay with the picture than living online in perspicuity. Ask people for permission before you post pictures of them and in particular consider carefully before posting pictures of minors.
It also makes sense to be aware of whom you're friending online. Many thieves and scam artists use social networks as a gold mine of information, both from posted items and friend lists and by sending out a random e-mail and hoping for a response to get them access to your account.
Banks and employers are also reviewing social networks and making determinations about your credit or job worthiness based on their perceptions of your online persona. Make sure you truly know who is on your friend or network list and delete or block anyone you arent sure of.
The web is just like a spider, sticky. It can be a great tool, but only if you use it carefully. If you want to maintain your privacy, use these steps as a guideline and start protecting yourself online.