Protect Your Online Identity from Cyberspies

A Career Builder survey found that 37 percent of employers check job candidates’ online presence, including social media accounts. The majority of businesses who searched a candidate’s online identity reported doing so to check qualifications, assess whether the individual would fit well with company culture and see how the candidate presents himself. One embarrassing photo probably won’t make a company decide not to hire you. Yet companies that find social posts that demonstrate poor judgment, complaints about your current job, drunk status updates and offensive tweets can be reluctant to hire you.

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Employers are only one group of people who may spy on you online. Others include hackers, stalkers, bullies and criminals. Clean up your online identity to prevent cyber spying, and then use monitoring tools to ensure that your identity remains safe.

Threats to Your privacy

Threats to your online identity have a range of causes. You might experience:

  • Cyber bullying
  • Cyber snooping
  • Cyber stalking
  • Identity theft
  • Hacking
  • Phishing

Tools to Protect Your Identity

The Lightbeam extension for the Firefox web browser shows you exactly which companies are watching you online. With Lightbeam, when you visit a website to search for a product, you’ll see all third parties who are viewing (and tracking) your information. Graphs, clocks and lists demonstrate which third parties are viewing it, when they access it and how you are tracked. This information is stored on your computer only. While Lightbeam doesn’t offer you ways to turn off this tracking, it does make online tracking transparent, according to Mozilla.

MaskMe offers email, phone and credit card identity protection for all your devices. With MaskMe enabled, your personal information is hidden on online forms. This can prevent hackers and third parties from viewing your phone number, credit card number and other sensitive information. You can receive free email masking or pay $45 for a year’s subscription of smartphone and credit card protection. When you install MaskMe on Firefox or Chrome, it allows you the option to provide masked personal information or authentic information to websites asking for your personal information. According to its site, Abine.com, DeleteMe removes your public information, personal information, personal and family photos and other information from data sites. This camouflages your information from identity thieves.

Social media privacy settings allow you to control who sees your information. If you want to retain as much privacy as possible — whether you’re job searching or you fear cyberbullies — you can hide Facebook profile information including location, age, education, job history, birthday and spouse. Hackers can use this information to steal your identity, employers can use it to evaluate you and bullies can use it to stalk you. You can also choose who sees content you post on social media, as the New York Times reports. When only friends see posted content, a potential thief won’t know you just left for a 2-week vacation and a potential employer won’t know you checked in at three bars the night before the interview.

If you are going on vacation and won’t be able to monitor your identity, Lifelock recommends active monitoring services. Receive alerts when suspicious activity occurs, new credit applications in your name are taken out, and other signals of identity fraud arise.

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