How to protect your email address from fraudsters

Posted by Tom Blandford in Identity Theft on 12 September 2016 - Tom is a Credit Analyst at checkmyfile

More than 85% of fraud is now carried out over the internet, with personal email accounts used as a large source of the personal data required for fraudsters to steal identities and apply for credit fraudulently.

Although a convenient tool for contacting family and friends, as well as a mandatory requirement for online services, your email account can be an invaluable pool of personal data to a fraudster. However, there are several simple steps you can take in order to secure your email account.

Don’t use an obvious or common password.

As much as you may love them, your cat’s name is a terribly unsecure name for a password. Hackers will often use a computer program in an attempt to use hundreds of common passwords simultaneously with different email addresses with the hope that they will obtain a match. Using a random order of capital letters, numbers, and other symbols can make it impossible for your password to be guessed and much harder for a hacker using a ‘brute force’ approach to generate the correct password.

Use different email addresses for different online services.

Using a unique email address when signing up for an online service is useful as it limits the amount of information stored by each separate email account if any of your email accounts were to be compromised. Additionally, it can help to identify who has sold your details to a third party if you start to receive spam.

Use two factor authentication (2FA)

Two factor authentication, or multi-step authentication is an extra layer of security that secures your email account even if the password were to be obtained by a fraudster. This sometimes comes in the form of a digital security token that is accessed through a smartphone, generating a temporary password that becomes useless after 30 seconds.

Alternatively, your email address provider can send SMS messages to a registered phone number. This ensures that only you have access to the secondary password, and that anyone trying to access your email address will unknowingly alert you to their activity via text.

Don’t access your email account on a publically shared computer

Spyware such as keyloggers can obtain your password extremely easily, especially when the only line of defence between a fraudster and your emails is a single password. By following these other steps and being particular about the devices you use to access your emails, you can ensure that they remain for your eyes only.

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