In today's digital age, texting is a way of life.
But there are times when the convenience of text and e-mail is trumped by the need to protect your identity.
When it comes to delivering personal or financial information, think twice before you hit send. You might need to use an alternative form of communication.
Steve Ervolino, senior vice president of information services at Dupaco, says we divulge sensitive information through digital formats too frequently.
"I think there's a lack of awareness of the potential security issues with doing that," Ervolino says. "With standard e-mail and text, there is no encryption security, so anybody at the right place with the right tools and the right knowledge can intercept that."
Even if your message isn't intercepted by a scammer, Ervolino points out that you don't know what will happen to that e-mail or text in the future.
"It could be forwarded to someone without your knowledge," he says. "You lose control over that information once you do that."
The next time you need to deliver personal information, follow these tips to help ensure that your identity remains yours:
- Assume it's fake: If you're not expecting a communication from someone, assume it is not legitimate – especially if it seeks personal information. Don't click on links from those e-mails, even if the sender appears to be a business familiar to you. Fraudsters frequently claim to be financial institutions in e-mail scams. "Dupaco would never send an e-mail out of the blue saying we need to update your information," Ervolino says. When in doubt, pick up the phone and ask the business about the correspondence.
- Never blindly send information: If you need to update an account with Dupaco, for instance, it's OK to make contact via e-mail. But don't divulge your information in the first correspondence. Instead, say something like: "I need to add a beneficiary to one of my accounts. How should I do that?" Dupaco, which has access to a secure e-mail service, will respond with your available options.
- Go directly to the source: Whether you're applying for a loan or opening an online account, go directly to the financial institution’s website rather than using a link from an e-mail. It will help ensure that you are using a legitimate, secure site.
- Hit delete: Delete messages containing sensitive information from all of your personal e-mail folders and text message inbox. "There's always the chance that your personal e-mail could be hacked or your computer could become infected," Ervolino says
By Emily Kittle