A friend of mine recently asked for 5 quick tips for people to protect themselves from cyberfraud and identity theft. While there are many great ideas out there on the sites listed below, here are the five I promote:
- Watch your credit card. When paying with a credit or debit card, pay attention to who has it and where it’s going. It’s easy for the waiter/waitress or cashier to steal the information when they take it out of your sight. Most identity theft occurs with the physical card and not online.
- Keep track of your charges. Know each time you spend money especially with credit and debit cards. This will make the next steps easier when you check your statements. You won’t need to rely on your memory as much (“What’s this charge?” and “Did I make it?”). While this is mostly important for payments made by credit or debit card, it also applies to cash.
- Pay attention to your statements. At least once a month, go through all of your bank and credit card statements to ensure all transactions are credible. It’s so easy to get lazy and neglect reviewing what’s being charged in your name. With electronic statements, you can do this multiple times a month. This allows you to catch potential problems earlier.
- Be careful when using public wi-fi. It’s a great convenience that so many places allow us to connect to the Internet using their free wi-fi. Keep in mind though that it’s like yelling in public; it’s not secret. Malicious hackers can “sniff” the airwaves and steal your information. I don’t recommend using public wi-fi for anything sensitive.
- Use strong passwords and keep them safe. Passwords are our keys to our identity and personal data. Choose and use the wisely. Don’t use the same password for all websites. That’s the same as having the same key for your house, car, office, safe, etc. Use different passwords especially for sensitive areas like your financial institutions. Microsoft has a good, online password checker to help you select strong passwords.
Below are some of the websites* and resources you can use to learn more about keeping yourself and your family safe online:
- FTC – Consumer site: http://www.consumer.ftc.gov/topics/protecting-your-identity
- IRS: http://www.irs.gov/uac/Identity-Protection-Tips
- Microsoft – Safety & Security Center: http://www.microsoft.com/security/default.aspx
What tips or sites do you have? Please share using the comments.
* These sites are not associated with Bellevue University. They are provided for your reference. Use at your own risk.