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Five Simple Ways to Keep Your Personal Information Safe

Keeping personal information secure is top of mind for everyone these days.

News of data breaches, cybersecurity loopholes and the problematic dependence we’ve developed on our devices can make it seem like we’re all doomed to digital Armageddon.

Uncertainty surrounding cybersecurity is made worse if you’re not a computer science expert; sure, most of us use computers at work and for fun, but just because we can scroll through an Instagram feed doesn’t mean we’re able to write a Python script.

The United States Department of Education reports that nearly 20% of Americans aren’t digitally literate. More recent data suggests that few of us have an advanced digital skillset.

The good news is this: There are steps you can take to increase your cybersecurity knowledge even if you’re not a computer whiz. Check out these simple tips to prevent your personal information from being compromised.

1 . Don’t Use Shared Accounts

That Netflix account you’re sharing with a friend – nip it in the bud.

Shared accounts are risky because they put your data in the hands of someone else – even if it’s a friend or relative – who may act irresponsibly, deliberately or otherwise. Sharing passwords is all well and good until, for example, there’s a falling out and one person decides to maliciously share your personal information.

Sharing your password is especially threatening to your online security if you use the same passwords for multiple accounts. Once a person has access to your password, they now also have access to different platforms you’re using it for.

At the end of the day, sharing a password adds an unnecessary risk to your cybersecurity.

2 . Be Wary of “Debt Collectors”

Hackers have become more sophisticated in soliciting personal information. These days, it’s more difficult to spot a phony email or voice message than it was 10 years ago. However, there are still certain warning signs you should look for.

Scammers want your money, and they often ask for it under the guise that they’re collecting a debt. In this scenario, your best bet is to call your bank or the business to which the alleged debt is owed. Don’t return voicemails asking for payment; legitimate debt notices would more likely come in the mail.

If you are on the phone with a suspected scammer, turn the tables – ask them for their website or a link to their profile with the Better Business Bureau.

3 . Two-factor Authentication is Your Friend

The name might make this method sound complicated, but it’s not.

Two-factor authentication asks a person to verify their identification two different ways. This might mean providing a password on a computer and then receiving a confirmation code via text message that also must be entered. The added layer of security makes it more difficult for hackers to compromise your accounts.

Two-factor authentication is becoming more popular in business and on personal platforms. Apple, Amazon, Google, and Facebook all offer it for free.  Look for services that offer this security method.

4 . Keep An Eye on Accounts

Here’s an easy one – check your bank accounts often to see that nothing is amiss.

There’s no excuse for not keeping up with your transaction history these days, as reviewing your accounts is often just a click away. The sooner you report something, the likelier it is you may be able to be reimbursed for fraudulent activity.

Checking accounts on a weekly basis is a start. Some banks and services also provide notifications when a suspicious transaction is made or a transaction is larger than a threshold you set. Sign up for these alerts if you’re able to.

5 . Download Wisely

Download applications from trustworthy sources like the Google Play, Apple App or Android store.

Don’t fall for download options in popups or on suspicious websites. Keeping your PC up to date with the latest security software is helpful in lessening the chances you’ll download something malicious. A firewall is another good cybersecurity tool.

Avoid adware by being skeptical of popups that boast giveaways or prizes. Adware is a bug that inundates users with advertisements and then sells their data to third parties.

Easy Ways to Minimize Risk

These cybersecurity strategies are effective and easy to execute.

The best thing you can do if you’re worried about having personal information breached is to remain vigilant – check accounts regularly, be mindful when creating passwords and keep your devices up to date.

For more information on preventing fraud, visit our security center.

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