Over the past decade, identity theft has become a growing buzzword. Here are ten steps that you can take to help protect you against this growing threat.
1. Check your financial accounts frequently. Catching any suspicious activity early on will help limit the damage.
2. Protect your personal information by using firewall and anti-virus software on your computer. Making sure to update them frequently will help them be most effective.
3. Along the same lines, make sure you are running up to date versions of your operating systems and browsers. Microsoft recently discontinued support of their popular Windows XP system, making it particularly vulnerable to hacker attacks. If you are still running Windows XP, consider updating to Windows 7 or 8.
4. Make sure you have a password on your Wi-Fi connection. Hackers can access your personal information through an unsecured Wi-Fi network. Similarly, if you are using a public Wi-Fi connection, do not do online banking or purchase something online.
5. Be careful when opening emails. If an email asks you to click on a link to update your account information, it could be a “phishing” email. This form of identity theft tricks people into entering their personal information into a fake website that looks like a site the user trusts.
6. Be careful when you receive links in an email. You can often spot a fake email by hovering over the links and checking whether the URL actually leads to the website of the business or, in a scam email, to a third party site.
7. Make sure that the passwords that you use are secure. They should be at least eight characters long and have a mixture of letters, numbers, and symbols. Try to avoid using the same password for multiple websites. Unfortunately, this makes it hard to remember what your passwords are. Using a online password manager will allow you to keep track of them. (i.e., lastpass.com)
8. Using cash instead of debit or credit cards might seem like a simple defense against identity theft, but it is definitely effective!
9. Never give personal or financial information to unsolicited callers.
10. Smart phones can hold a great deal of your personal data. Protect that data by making sure you have a password on your phone. Also, make sure you have an application on your phone that will allow you to wipe your phone clear of data if it is stolen or goes missing. Finally, be careful when downloading apps. Only download apps that are trustworthy.
If you questions regarding internet security and setting up effective passwords, contact Gabe@tekk3.com.
*republished from McMicheal Insurance Newsletter