Practical Steps for Protecting Yourself from Cyber Security Threats
Setting and Using Passwords
- Adhere to strong passwords. A strong password contains a mix of numbers, letters and special characters.
- Don’t use personal information as part of a login ID or password.
- Change your passwords every 6 months or use a password manager.
- When possible, use dual-factor authentication to require a unique code every time your credentials are used from an unfamiliar device.
- When possible, use voice ID or verbal passwords for phone verification instead of providing personal information when calling your financial institutions.
Answering Phone Calls and Emails
- Don’t open or answer phishing emails, phone calls or text messages. A phishing message may claim to be from a bank or other entity asking you for personal information or log in credentials.
- Avoid sharing sensitive information via email or phone.
- Be wary of unknown and unfamiliar senders.
- If someone from a “service team” calls you and asks for personal information, end the call and call back the institution they claim to be calling from.
- Don’t click on links or attachments from unknown sources.
- Ensure your financial institutions will not transfer funds from your accounts without verbal authorization or pre-approved written instructions.
- Use caution when ordering online from unfamiliar vendors – especially if they claim to have abundant amounts of high-demand products.
Monitoring Your Credit
- Keep an eye on your credit regularly. Tracking your credit ensures you will notice sooner rather than later if an account has been opened with your information. You may do this with tools like Credit Karma or Credit Sesame. You can also request a free credit report from Experian and Equifax (free once per year).
- Don’t forget to monitor your children’s credit. Kids’ credit scores are often overlooked, as it’s not as common to monitor children’s social security numbers because we often assume they are safe.
- If you suspect you’ve been a victim, consider using a credit monitoring service.
- Consider a credit freeze. Neither you nor anyone else will be able to open a new line of credit in your name until the credit freeze is lifted. Freezing your credit can be done with all three major credit bureaus: Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
Shopping and Errands
Sadly, fraudsters know this is a time when many individuals and families are in need of help. If a stranger offers you or a loved one help with groceries or picking up supplies and asks for money first, exercise caution. Many grocery stores and pharmacies are offering contactless delivery and additional help can be found through reputable agencies like Eldercare Locator.
We hope these guidelines enable you and your loved ones to feel more secure in managing your personal information and protecting your identity. To read other articles from the Wealth Architects team that we hope provide meaningful value, please visit our Wisdom page.