Between social media and the internet, there are so many ways for you to find and enjoy relevant content online. Maybe you want to download a free guide or ebook, play an online game or enter a contest. But how do you know it’s safe to share your information?
When it’s okay to share your personal information online
Here’s a checklist to help you identify when it’s safe for you to share your personal information online.
- You initiated the interaction with a trusted business through authorized channels.
- You know that the brand you’re engaging with is trusted and reputable.
- You have legitimate business or relationships with the websites you’re using.
- These brands are transparent about their security practices and how they will use (and not use) your data.
- You’re engaging with someone you trust, and you know it’s really them.
- You’re selective with who you follow on social media and choose to interact with trusted brands and connections.
- When the information you’re submitting couldn’t be used to impersonate you or collect your personal data.
- The website is secure. You’ll be able to see a lock icon next to the URL.
- The website is truly owned and operated by the legitimate company.
Let’s run through an example of how you could apply this checklist. On our social media, we shared about our self-assessment tool, Money Minded. You answer a few questions, enter your name and email, and we’ll send you a customized learning plan to help you grow in your financial confidence. So, is this safe or not safe?
- You can choose whether or not you take the assessment.
- You know ATB is a legitimate company.
- You follow us on social media, so you probably have some kind of relationship with us.
- We’re open about what we use your information for (receiving your assessment results and customized learning plans).
- Our website is secure.
Sounds like it’s safe, if you’re interested in taking the assessment.
The key when wondering if you should share your information online is taking the time to think critically. An online quiz or request for your email is safe from a trusted brand, but the same request from an unknown source is questionable. There’s no need to assume every request is “bad”—just take a moment to think through it, reference this checklist and you can feel confident about when you do (and don’t) share your information online.
When it’s not okay to share your personal information online
In order to know when it’s safe to share your personal information, it’s just as important to be aware of when it’s not okay to share.
Be aware of these red flags before giving out your personal information online:
- You’re contacted without having requested support and asked for your personal details or account information.
- You’re asked to click through a link that doesn’t take you to the brand’s authorized website and you’re asked to share personal information.
- Websites may look like the official brand websites, but they differ in small ways. The URL could be misspelled, the “http://” could be missing from the URL, the logo looks pixelated, there are grammar and spelling errors, something feels “off” and the experience feels different.
- Be wary of questions that could be personal identifiers. You should never be asked for specific personal information such as account numbers or a social insurance number.
If you come across any of these red flags, contact the legitimate business directly through their real website or client care phone number to verify. If you have doubts, it’s best to trust your gut and play it safe.
You can enjoy your time online and make the most of the content, games, contests and other activities legitimate businesses have to offer by being aware of when it’s safe to share your personal information.