There are precautions you can take to minimize the risk of your personal information being hacked. I won’t address reviewing: Your credit reports, monthly bank statements and credit reports as well as freezing your credit except to say if you bank online and have your credit card accounts online, you don’t have to wait for a monthly statement. You can review these accounts for suspicious activity on a more ongoing basis.
What else can you do? Here are a few things:
- Use 2-Factor Authentication – I highly recommend this one for starters for any online account that enables it. 2-factor authentication requires both something you know like a password and something you have like a smart phone and it is much more secure than using just a password since it takes more than a password to access an account. So if you use 2-factor authentication and someone has your password, they cannot easily get into your account. Click here to learn more about this
- Do you have a passcode lock on your smartphone? – What if your smartphone got lost or stolen? Many of us have quite a bit of personal information on our phones that we don’t want others to see and yet as of 2 years ago, 1/3 of smartphone owners took no security measures to protect their phone. Even setting your phone with a 4-digit PIN code lock is better than doing nothing at all. If your phone is unprotected, you need to setup a PIN or password pronto. Learn more about protecting your smartphone.
- Review your security questions – When Sarah Palin ran for Vice President, her personal email account got hacked because the hacker was able to find out her mother’s maiden name. Most of us are not celebrities, but a lot of this personal information is out there in ways you may not be thinking of. The link is a good primer on how to have an answer that is not guessed easily. About 50% of all identity theft is by a family member, friend or neighbor. Think about that.
- Use a secure password. Still using a password with 6 characters? It likely can be easily hacked. Here is how to set up a secure password.
- Do you keep your list of passwords where others can see it? On too many occasions (and one is too many) I have seen clients leave their passwords on a piece of paper or papers that would be easily accessible to anyone without difficulty. Passwords left on a desk in the living room, taped onto a computer, etc. make them accessible to a delivery person, housecleaning service etc. It is a delicate subject to mention but if as I mentioned before if you are a victim of identity theft there is a good chance that the relative you trusted could be the one doing it. Make sure that list is not readily accessible to visitors to your home.
- Be careful of what you put out on the internet. What are you putting out there on Facebook? Your maiden name could be the answer to a security question as could the name of your high school or college. I am not telling you what to put out there or not put out there. I am telling you to be careful. See the part about security questions and check out the link included with it. The information could prevent your identity from being stolen. Think about this: Those Facebook questions your friends ask such as your favorite TV program, your favorite place to vacation, your favorite food, etc could be a security question so be careful.
- Change your passwords often. I know, I know. But changing your password about every 90 days will help to keep your accounts more secure.
We get told to worry about the things you can control not what you cannot control. The 7 ways I mentioned are what you have control over. You can’t control your doctor’s office security or a government having an old and out of date system. Do what you can to minimize the risk of your personal information.
If you wish to know more about being more secure on the internet or other technology issues I can be reached at (917) 572-3468 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org .
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