Why a Secret Identity Helps When You're Online (and How to Do It)

By Gerri Detweiler

NEW YORK (Credit.com) — Is it OK to lie to protect your personal information online? Apparently plenty of people think so. In one survey, 22% of “savvy” 8- to 17-year-olds claim, “I don’t give out my details online, I make up fake ones” according to Intersperience.

Creating an online persona can be one way to help protect yourself against the intrusions of a hyper-connected world. Here are three times an online alias is helpful:

You don’t want everyone knowing your secrets. It’s no secret that search engines, websites and apps often track your activities and use that information to target you for services or products they hope you may buy, or to serve up online ads. While government agencies figure out how involved they want to be in protecting consumers’ personal information, you can take some control by creating your alter ego for surfing the Net, signing up for coupons or online offers, etc.

You want to help protect yourself from identity theft. If you thought it was just too easy for Melissa McCarthy to steal Jason Bateman’s identity in the movie Identity Thief, think again. It’s just not that hard for crooks to gather the info they need to impersonate someone else. As my colleague Adam Levin has pointed out numerous times, most of us post way too much personal information online. All it takes is one incident where a site such as Facebook gets hacked for a cyber thief to have all the information they need to steal your identity. Heck, a site doesn’t even have to be hacked to expose your information; you may have already posted plenty of details on your online profiles.

You want to get or keep a job. Whether you are employed or hope to be, you may want to be cautious about what you post online. From the woman who was allegedly fired for posting on Facebook after she called in sick, claiming she needed to rest in a dark room, to the waitress who said she was fired after complaining about customers on her Facebook account, there are plenty of stories about employees who get fired over online posts.