This week, we have discussed Creating an Online Profile, and how to Claim your Name Online, now, let's talk about a few simple steps you can take to stay safe and protect your name online.
PROTECT YOUR ID
First, you need to protect yourself from identity theft and harrassment by providing as little about your personal identification as possible. Don't put your home address online (use your business address, preferably a PO Box). NEVER put your Social Security online for any reason, and consider not providing your full date of birth. In most cases, it is not necessary or advisable to reveal personal information about your spouse and children.
Use a proxy registration service for your domain name, and when possible, use a proxy server to protect your I.P. address when you are surfing online. Please keep in mind, this will simply make it more difficult for criminals to get to you - it will not make you impossible to find, so never use proxies of any type to engage in illegal, unethical, or potentially embarrassing behavior. Use a third-party service (like PayPal) to make payments when purchasing online.
CONSIDER TRADEMARKING YOUR NAME
If you are (or want to become) a public personality, you may want to consider trademarking your name and photo. This is not necessary for everyone, but for those involved in industries such as entertainment or politics, it may be advisable.
SECURE YOUR COMPUTER
Make sure you have your computers' firewalls and virus protection software up-to-date.
These are just a few common-sense steps that you can take pro-actively to stay safe online and protect your name. Do you have other ideas or suggestions? We'd love to hear them!
Jennifer Pointer (e-mail) is a trainer and tech writer in Tulsa, OK. She promotes a simple, a low-tech approach to effective online profile management, search engine optimization and social networking. Her weakness is the mocha frappuccino.