Everyone most likely is aware of the State Farm commercial, with the older gentleman holding a fishing pole with a dollar attached to the hook. People try to pick up the dollar and it is quickly jerked away and they say, “you gotta be quicker than that!” If not, here is a viral meme from the commercial.
Sensitive personal information is now more vulnerable than ever, and taking steps to minimize getting “hacked” or “scammed” is an everyday task. It’s as if the hackers and scammers themselves are the older gentleman with the fishing pole swiping your personal information right from the grips of your fingertips, ”Gotta be quicker than that!” Here are a few tips to protect your personal information:
Be cautious online:
- Avoid sharing personal information over email or phone unless you initiate the contact and are familiar with the recipient. Be cautious of phishing attempts.
- Don't click on links or download attachments from unknown or suspicious sources.Use secure websites (look for "https" and a padlock icon in the address bar) for online transactions, and avoid using public Wi-Fi for sensitive activities.
- Be vigilant in using different passwords or a password generator to create strong passwords. This will prevent your online accounts from getting hacked across multiple sources.
Check your credit reports:
- Obtain free credit reports from the major credit bureaus (Equifax, Experian, TransUnion) annually or spread them evenly throughout the year. Review these reports for any unusual activity or accounts you didn't open.
- This is especially important to lines of credit or even new retirement, investment, or bank accounts opened on your behalf.
- Any negative impact to your credit from scammers could negatively affect your ability to get a mortgage or car loan.
Use two-factor-authentication (2FA):
- Enable two-factor authentication for your online accounts whenever possible. This will add an extra layer of security by requiring a second form of verification in addition to your password.
Be cautious with social media:
- Be mindful of the information you share on social media. Avoid sharing personal details that could be used to impersonate you or answer security questions. Think about all of those “20 Questions About Me” that used to be so popular on social media.
Consider Identity Theft Protection Services:
- Identity theft protection services can help monitor your credit and alert you to potential issues. Research and choose reputable services if you decide to use them.
Be Wary of Public Wi-Fi and Lockdown your Personal Network
- Avoid conducting sensitive transactions on public Wi-Fi networks, such as online shopping and banking.
- For your own personal network, use a very strong and unique password to protect your home network.
Those are just a few ways to be proactive in protecting yourself. To make it even easier, be aware of the Social Security Administration’s four P’s of online safety:
Pretend- be watchful if someone is pretending to be from a familiar organization or entity.
Problem- if they mention a problem or a prize.
Pressure- if you’re pressured to act immediately.
Pay- pressure you to pay with cash, gift card, cryptocurrency, or wire. Any of these might be a sign of that dollar slipping right out of your hands and the scammer saying, “You gotta be quicker than that!”
Written by: Kyle Cooper
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