Online SAFE-T for your Identity

Following are my recommendations for creating "dummy" or "protected" versions of the various elements of your identity for use online:

REAL NAME: Many websites today provide a sign-up which allows customization and setting of preferences on the site — use your "middle" name instead of your "last" name or create an "alternate" spelling of your last name (when you start getting junk mail to this name, you'll know where its from). Obviously, do not do this to signup for financial access or shopping accounts where your true identity is required!

USERNAME/PASSWORD: Create a "general" username with a corresponding short, easy password to use on these internet sites, BUT create a different "unique" username and more difficult password (mix of letters, caps and numbers) for any financial or important personal sites. This was if your Facebook account is compromised, your financial accounts are not! (Some sites use an email address as your username for which you could use an "alternate" address as described next.)

EMAIL ADDRESS: Keep your personal email address as free of spam as possible! Open a "alternate" free email address to use exclusively for these online accounts. It's better today than it used to be, but sometimes a site will send you "important notices" about new features even if you have set your preferences otherwise — this will corral all online messages into one account. Most of these free addresses can now days be added into your normal email client on your computer, so there is no need to visit a special webpage to view them.
[example: http://www.gmail.com]

PHONE NUMBER: When a website "requires" a telephone number, but they have no reason to call you, just change the last digit. This is often the case when you try to enter a sweepstakes or contest or when you are requesting printed information, but do not want the followup calls. You can get another number free from Google which can be used for these type of online requests. This way you still get a voicemail you could return, but if they sell your number its not clogging your home phone! GoogleVoice provides a universal voicemail and also can be used to route calls between your various numbers. Check out the website for more information about what it does. It is currently available by invite only, but I have a few invites left.
[http://voice.google.com]

CREDIT CARD: Dedicate one card for use only on the internet or signup for a PayPal account which is an alternative form of payment accepted at many websites. They can also provide you with a Visa Debit Card to use if PayPal is not accepted directly. The PayPal account "links" to as many personal accounts as you like and gives you the freedom to choose which accounts are used without giving that information away directly. You can also load the card with money. This system was developed by eBay for auction payments, but is widely used today.
[http://www.paypal.com]

HOME ADDRESS: If your address contains certain elements they can sometimes be used to distinguish their source. Like using "#" for the apartment number instead of "Apt" in your address given online. Or shortening road descriptors (like "Rd," "Ln", etc.) for online only. Most of the time whatever you enter into an online signup form will be used without modification, often even capitalization. There are certain variances allowed in the postal code, but you can't go crazy — if you still want to receive the mail. Go to their website and lookup the "official" form for displaying your address and go from there.
[http:www.usps.com]

Creating a "separate" online identity for which you have a method of distinguishing leisurely accounts will keep your important information safer and your email less cluttered.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

My friend and I were recently discussing about technology, and how integrated it has become to our daily lives. Reading this post makes me think back to that debate we had, and just how inseparable from electronics we have all become.


I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Societal concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further advances, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's a fantasy that I daydream about almost every day.


(Posted on Nintendo DS running [url=http://kwstar88.livejournal.com/491.html]R4 SDHC[/url] DS SurfV3)

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