Surfing the Net is my Favorite Sport, how can I do it Safely?
The internet is a powerful resource that many Americans have come to depend on for everyday activities like shopping, banking, and connecting with friends. Yet, for all the internet’s advantages, it can also make users vulnerable to fraud, identity theft and other scams.
Here are a few tips to help you stay safe and secure online:
- Keep your computers and mobile devices up to date. Having the latest security software, web browser, and operating system are the best defenses against viruses, malware, and other online threats. Turn on automatic updates so you receive the newest fixes as they become available.
- Set strong passwords. A strong password is at least eight characters in length and includes a mix of upper and lowercase letters, numbers, and special characters.
- Watch out for phishing scams. Phishing scams use fraudulent emails and websites to trick users into disclosing private account or login information. Do not click on links or open any attachments or pop-up screens from sources you are not familiar with.
- Forward phishing emails to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at firstname.lastname@example.org – and to the company, bank, or organization impersonated in the email.
- Keep personal information personal. Hackers can use social media profiles to figure out your passwords and answer those security questions in the password reset tools. Lock down your privacy settings and avoid posting things like birthdays, addresses, mother’s maiden name, etc. Be wary of requests to connect from people you do not know.
- Secure your internet connection. Always protect your home wireless network with a password. When connecting to public Wi-Fi networks, be cautious about what information you are sending over it.
- Shop safely. Before shopping online, make sure the website uses secure technology. When you are at the checkout screen, verify that the web address begins with https. Also, check to see if a tiny locked padlock symbol appears on the page.
- Read the site’s privacy policies. Though long and complex, privacy policies tell you how the site protects the personal information it collects.
By taking these steps you improve your chances of avoiding a painful wipeout while surfing.
8 Steps to Protect Yourself From Identity Theft
According to the Federal Trade Commission, identity theft has topped its list of consumer complaints every year, for the last 15 years. Identity theft occurs when a criminal obtains and misuses someone’s personal information without permission, typically for economic gain. For many victims, it can result in drained bank accounts, poor credit, and a damaged reputation.
To better protect your identity try these simple 8 steps:
- Don’t share your secrets. Don’t provide your Social Security number or account information to anyone who contacts you online or over the phone. Protect your PINs and passwords and do not share them with anyone. When creating your passwords, use a combination of letters and numbers and change them periodically. Do not reveal sensitive or personal information on social networking sites.
- Shred sensitive papers. Shred receipts, banks statements and unused credit card offers before throwing them away.
- Keep an eye out for missing mail. Fraudsters look for monthly bank or credit card statements or other mail containing your financial information. Consider getting your bank statements online to reduce the likelihood of paper statements being stolen. If you bank with us, you can enroll for that free service at our website. Also, try to avoid mailing your bills from your own mailbox with the flag up.
- Use online banking to protect yourself. Monitor your financial accounts regularly for fraudulent transactions.
- Monitor your credit report. Order a free copy of your credit report every four months from one of the three credit reporting agencies at annualcreditreport.com.
- Protect your computer. Make sure the virus protection software on your computer is active and up to date. When conducting business online, make sure your browser’s padlock or key icon is active. Also look for an “s” after the “http” to be sure the website is secure.
- Protect your mobile device. Use the passcode lock on your smartphone and other devices. This will make it more difficult for thieves to access your information if your device is lost or stolen. Before you donate, sell or trade your mobile device, be sure to wipe it using specialized software or using the manufacturer’s recommended technique. Some software allows you to wipe your device remotely if it is lost or stolen. Use caution when downloading apps, as they may contain malware and avoid opening links and attachments – especially for senders you don’t know.
- Report any suspected fraud to your bank immediately.
When it comes to protecting your identity, prevention is the very best cure.