Hackers, identity thieves and other online criminals are a real threat, but you don’t have to stand idly by and wait to be victimized. Technology expert and CBS MoneyWatch columnist Dave Johnson has some simple steps you can take to help keep yourself safe.
- Avoid sending key private information via email. Financial institutions will never ask for your Social Security number, account number, password or other personal information in an email. If you get one that asks for any of these, it’s a scam and you should delete it.
- Never click a link in an email to go to your bank’s website. Scammers can create very convincing copies of banking emails and websites. If you click a link from an email, it may take you to something that looks like your bank’s website, but is actually designed to steal your login information when you enter it.
- Use a different password for every site you use. If you use the same password, just one site has to be hacked for criminals to gain access to all of your online accounts. Use a password keeper such as Roboform or Lastpass to help you keep track of them all.
- Utilize 2-factor authentication whenever it’s offered. The process requires you use a unique code—that comes to your phone—each time you login.
- Don’t put your whole life online. Some scammers gather information you put online, such as about recent Amazon purchases, then use that information to bluff their way through a call with customer service to get your details.
- Put a password on all your devices. Your phone, tablet and smartphone all should be locked with a unique pin that’s not as simple as 1234.
— Adapted from “Practical ways to protect your online privacy,” Dave Johnson, CBS MoneyWatch.