or how to manage your email and reduce the risk of identity theft
One is required to choose usernames and passwords for every other website one accesses these days. It is impossible to remember them all and highly inadvisable to use the same set except for the most innocuous of sites where having your login details does not open you up to being scammed. The only practical and safe solution is a Password Management program.
Password management programs do a lot more than store your details. They will access a site, enter your username and password automatically in many cases. They allow you to store additional information (very useful for credit card details) and allow you to safely store other personal information such as passport details, NI number, Driving licence details etc.etc. You only have one password to remember to access all the others.
These programs can be in the cloud (on-line) in your computer. We favour the latter as you have more control. On-line programs have been hacked in the past! Our favourites are:
Password Safe https://pwsafe.org/
Even better – they are free. However, remember to keep a copy elsewhere at all times. Dropbox or similar is ideal for this.
The problem of course with signing up to all these sites is that they start sending you emails and they share your emails with others. Under GDPR this is not allowed unless you have given explicit permission. However the hoops one has to jump through to check the permissions are often impossible to navigate and even if one does there is little one can do if your details are still shared. The risk of even a largish organisation being caught and substantially punished is vanishingly small.
Worse still, some of these sites ask for information for which they have no need such as your date of birth. This is not only contrary to the stipulations of GDPR but also allows miscreants to potentially begin building your profile more extensively in order to fake your ID.
The only answer is to use subterfuge where necessary. This can take many forms depending on one’s objectives:
- The full Monty: A fake name, email address and date of birth
- An alias email address (a free but mostly unadvertised feature of almost every email system) that you can delete when you have what you want or check who is giving away your details).
- A minimally altered street address. Provided the number and the postcode are correct, other minimal alterations to your address will not prevent your post being delivered correctly. You can call Armitage Street ‘Armitage Road’ or spell it Arnitage Street’ without worrying.
- Using a false data of birth eg 21/04/76 to 22/05/77
These and other stratagems involve a little work. Helping you remember what you have done in all cases is your password management program.
There may be all sorts of other reasons for wanting to become fully or partially incognito beyond simply tracking who’s misusing your personal information. Often a false name is employed as protection from the trolling hordes. Sometimes it’s to separate a professional profile from a silly one.
It comes as no big surprise that a survey earlier this year by RSA, the software security company, found that 41 per cent of internet users entering personal information online tend to falsify their details (click here). Only 30 per cent of respondents did so out of security concerns (which means another 11 per cent did so out of sheer mischief)!
So, next time you come across:
Anton Deckk or
Maid Uppnaim or
It could be me.