There are many vulnerabilities out there, hackers, phishers – you name it. It certainly doesn’t help that browsers are the key to get at your data. But there are simple steps you can take NOW to protect yourself.
Step #1 – Stop Phishing
Keep passwords private – don’t reveal them! Not even to family or close friends. Of course you trust your family and friends but once revealed you can never be sure that they will not unwittingly reveal your password to someone else. There may be occasions, due to sickness or accident for example, when you have to allow family or close friends to access some on-line accounts. Following such occasions you should change your passwords as soon as practically possible.
Step #2 – Stop Phishing
Use secure passwords. Never use a password such as your middle name, your pet’s name, your birthday etc. These may be easy to guess. Nor should you use any word that exists in the dictionary. A good password uses a combination of letters and numbers and symbols. It’s possible to create such passwords in an easy to remember format. For example, the password A$4A10c looks quite random but may be remembered as “A dollar for a dime”.
Step #3 – Stop Phishing
Use good security software (anti-virus, anti-spyware, anti-spam, firewall) and don’t forget to keep it updated.
Step #4 – Stop Phishing
Alway, always, ALWAYS use the most current versions of Internet browsers. Most of the current versions contain their own anti-phishing filters and blacklists to help keep you safe.
Step #5 – Stop Phishing
Never click a link in an email that looks suspicious. This is a classic phishing trick. They name the link to their phishing website with a real one so the link looks like one for your bank or credit card company. Instead of clicking open your Internet browser and type in the website address shown in the email.
Credit card companies, YOUR BANK, banks you’ve never dealt with will NEVER, EVER send you a personal e-mail asking for information. Check with your financial institutions e-mail policy, but most are quite standard in the banking industry.
Step #6 - – Stop Phishing
Regularly check your on-line accounts. Log on to your account and investigate any action that you don’t recognize. It may just be that the details of a retailer transaction are not easily recognizable so investigate before you take action.
This is VERY important. You should be checking your accounts regularly. Credit card companies do a one up on this, they have very sophisticated software that tracks purchases and can almost assign a “biometric fingerprint” to how you make your purchases.
For example, recently I filled my car with gas and used a credit card to pay for the purchase. I realized I needed something else, so went into the store and the clerk cancelled the gas purchase so I could make the addition purchase. He then recharged my card, but immediately my credit card company put my card on hold. Within 1 hour of the incident they called me on my cell phone to confirm whether it was me that made the purchase and if I was aware of the subsequent credit and re-purchase. They’re good. Damn good!