Identity theft is big business on the Internet today. Hackers are paid for obtaining individuals’ Social Security numbers, credit card and bank account numbers, medical insurance card numbers, names, and addresses. Be vigilant when providing your personal information—know who you’re giving it to, and what they’re going to do with it—by following the tips below.

Watch out for phishing

Phishing is an identity theft scam that uses “spoofed” or fake emails and websites to trick people into giving out personal information such as usernames and passwords, credit card numbers, or Social Security numbers. The emails or web sites usually look official at first glance, which is what makes them so successful. For more information, see the Look Out for Phishing page.

Don’t send personal information via email

Instead, enter it into the organization’s secure web site (make sure the URL starts with “https” instead of “http”), or call them on the phone and provide the information directly to a company representative.

Be careful sharing personal details on blogs, forums, and social media sites

Anyone can read your blog and forum posts, so don’t post personal information that could be used to impersonate you, and don’t post information about where you’ll be at a particular time. When using social media sites like Facebook and Google+, make sure that personal information is only viewable by people you know and trust.