How can I protect my personal information when using instant messaging?

First, it is important to choose a pseudonym (or “handle”) that does not reveal your identity or location. Give the pseudonym to the people on your contact list so that they will be able to recognize you. Second, never provide sensitive personal information when chatting, such as credit card numbers, passwords, or addresses. The information circulating during instant messaging and chat sessions may not necessarily be encrypted. To protect your confidentiality and to make sure you are in contact with people you can trust, it is wise to refuse to chat with unknown persons who spontaneously solicit a conversation.