Protecting Yourself Online

The Internet has changed the world, making information more accessible than ever. Although it has many advantages, users are also vulnerable to frauds and online scams. But you can take steps to protect yourself. Here are a few tips.

Guard your personal information

Never respond to requests for personal or account information online. Be careful when sharing your social insurance number or credit card information. Watch out for convincing imitations of banks, card companies, charities and government agencies. If you can, verify request for personal information using things like your bank’s official website or the phone numbers listed on your financial statements.

Stay current

Install anti-virus software on your computer and keep it updated. Use the latest version of your web browser. Install security patches and software updates when requested. You should also consider installing a virtual private network (VPN), especially on public wi-fi connections. Many such connections are unencrypted, offering the chance to intercept data being sent and received by your device. Sometimes, attackers even create fake wi-fi hotspots purporting to be legitimate networks. Using a VPN makes it much harder for your data to be intercepted.

Be careful what you share

Don’t divulge your birth date, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name or any other identifying information on social media websites, such as Facebook and Twitter. Look through your online profiles and delete any personal information that hackers might use against you.

Get strong passwords

Use unique and hard-to-guess passwords. Don’t use the names of your children, pets, sports team or dates of birth as these can often be sourced from social media profiles. Don’t use the same password for multiple online accounts. Choose passwords that can’t be easily guessed and change them every 90 days. You should also consider using a password manager for multiple strong passwords across all your accounts.

Watch your finances

Monitor your bank and credit card accounts regularly. Sign up for alerts to be sent to your mobile phone or e-mail. Check your credit and public information online to spot unauthorized activity. If you see anything that looks unusual, alert your financial institution and change your credit or debit card. If a company you use has experienced any kind of breach, change your passwords immediately.

If you are a victim of online fraud, contact the authorities. The more people who report online fraud, the greater the chance that criminals will be caught. Remember, criminals will say and do anything to part you from your hard-earned money.

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