You lock your doors when you leave your home. You secure your belongings in your car when you go to the store. You hold your child’s hand when you’re in a crowded area. It is our natural instinct to protect the things that we hold dear by taking the most basic precautions, but in this digital age our security is being threatened by some things that we can’t even see. Did you know that 1 in 10 adults fall victim to online cyber-crime? Protecting yourself from cyber threats can be as simple as changing a password. Here are some tips to make sure that you’re protecting yourself and your loved ones from these digital intruders.
Keep your information close
If a fraudster is unable to get to your information on their own, then they will try to trick you into giving them clues they can use to steal your information, money or identity. Keeping a tight rein on who you’re giving out information to and what you’re giving them is crucial to keep yourself safe. We asked Scott Hoopes, Technology Director at Net Pay Advance for his tips about online security. “Know who you are giving information to and why they need it. If you can get away with only giving away part of your information (last 4 of SSN or CC number) then do only that. If they’re asking for more then they better have a very good reason,” said Hoopes.
This should go without saying, but creating a password that isn’t “YourName1” or something else that is very easy to guess is the first way that you should be protecting yourself. If the information is public, then you shouldn’t be using it in your password. This includes birthday, phone number, address numbers, etc. Second, you should not be using the same password for all of your accounts. I know it’s hard to keep track of those dang things, but it’s worth the hassle. If you find that you can’t remember the password to all of your accounts, try using Dashlane, it’s a free software that holds all of your passwords for you. That way you only have to keep track of one password. Third, make it a point to reset your passwords on a regular basis. Whether it’s once a quarter or every six weeks or even once a year. Set a reminder in your calendar and stick to it.
Another basic habit to get into is to make sure that you’re logging out of accounts when you’re finished on your computer or smart phone. Most websites will log you out automatically when you close the browser, but others don’t. This will leave your account open for the next user. Now you’re thinking, this is my cell phone and/or computer, who else will be using it? Logging in and out of accounts can be redundant but if your computer or phone is lost or stolen you will be happy that you did.
If a website is worth its salt nowadays, it has taken security measures. If the site isn’t secure, your browser should let you know by either re-directing you to an error page or a pop-up saying that you are on a page that isn’t verifiably secure. Listen to what the browser has to say as it’s in your best interest to stick to secure pages. Again, pop-ups and ads that look like they are too good to be true are just click bait and could put your online security at risk.
Too good to be true
If you receive an email or see an ad that claims something that seems impossibly amazing, it probably is. Too good to be true is a good rule of thumb when deciding if you should pursue the offer. Scammers will use words like “exclusive” or “one-time opportunity” to lure you in, but this is just a ruse.
“Always be suspicious. If it doesn’t look right, don’t do it,” continued Hoopes.
It is unfortunate that we have to so careful, but it’s our reality. Keeping yourself informed is the best line of defense for yourself and your loved ones. For more information about online security and protecting yourself from online loan scams, see our Security Center.