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Three Things You Should Never Share Online

By Karen Cho

It may seem obvious, but it’s amazing how easy it is to get caught up in a scam and find yourself sharing more than you should. No matter who’s doing the asking, there are three things you should never share about yourself.

You’ve heard this before but it still bears repeating. Do not share your password with anyone. Not your colleague, bestie, not even your significant other. Whether it’s the password to your online banking account, credit card portal or Canada Revenue Agency login, just keep it to yourself. Should you have a great many unique passwords for different websites and services, consider using a password-management app to keep track of them. (Naturally, do your research beforehand, to ensure your preferred software is secure, and from a reputable company.)

If you’re on your work computer and the IT guy is coming around to fix or upgrade your computer, do not give them your password either. Most will know better and have you type your password and discreetly look away. Do take preemptive measures by having a strong password from the get-go; combinations of letters and numbers that don’t point to the obvious (such as birthdates, for example), are best. And avoid saving passwords, especially on work computers: If you step away and forget to lock it, anyone can sneak on and get access to your personal information. And no, you’re not being paranoid, you’re just being safe.

Cyber thieves are getting more adept at coaxing information from us. Resist the temptation to share personal information online—phone numbers, birthdate, birth place, name of first dog, which high school you attended, etc.—that could be clues to your password. Once unlocked, the thieves will have free rein to your accounts. Social insurance and passport numbers should also be closely guarded. Stolen SINs could lead to your government benefits, tax refunds or bank credits being hacked; someone could also use your SIN to work illegally or obtain credit and ruin your credit rating. In the workplace, only your human resources department has the right to ask you for your SIN; your supervisor or manager does not need to know.

What to do if it identity fraud happens to you

Financial information should almost never be shared. Even if you receive an email that looks like it came from your bank or financial institution asking that you verify your account information immediately or risk termination, don’t do anything without first checking in with your bank. Chances are, it’s probably a phishing scam and the phishers are waiting for you to take the bait so that they can drain your account and ruin your credit. At the workplace, human resources may need your bank account information to deposit your pay cheque and that’s ok; you do want to get paid after all. You should also be vigilant about releasing credit card information. Making online purchases on credit cards are generally safe on reputable sites—just check that the web address is “https” and not “http”.