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Personal Safeguards

Cyber criminals and fraudsters are stealing people’s banking account information and identities at an alarming rate. According to reports, in 2008 the Anti-Phishing Working Group received more than 640,000 fraud complaints from consumers.

This goes beyond stealing money. Cyber crime has a long-term effect on those that have been victimized. Feelings of distrust, insecurity, and loss on control stay with the victims for a long time after the crime has been committed.

Most types of cyber fraud are referred to as social engineering. Social engineering is used to describe the techniques used by criminals to trick people into revealing passwords or other information that can compromise the security of personal information. There are many forms of social engineering but they all share the same goal – getting access to your personal or account information to defraud you.

The most common forms of cyber scams include:

Phishing – Phishing attacks come in a variety of forms but are mainly done through e-mail. They can range from pleas of monetary help from foreign royalty to requests for account information from fraudsters disguised as a financial institution or other well- known organizations.

Vishing – Vishing involves fraudsters pretending to be associated with a financial institution or well-known business requesting personal or account information through the telephone or voice-enabled software on your computer.

SMiShing – The scams start as a mass text message that appears as a message from your financial institution or another business that retains customer accounts. These messages notify receivers their account has been temporarily locked or suspended and the receiver needs to call a telephone number or visit a Web site to unlock it. Of course, the telephone number or Web site requires account or personal information to unlock the account.

The greatest weapon you have in preventing fraudsters from stealing your account information or identity is protecting your information. Simple things like shredding your old information and not clicking links in unsolicited e-mails will help keep your information secure and lower the chance of having your information compromised.

Here are a few tips for preventing fraud from happening to you:

  • Do not give our personal information on the telephone, through e-mail, or over the Internet unless you know whom you are dealing with.
  • Never click on links sent in unsolicited e-mails.
  • Keep your anti-virus or anti-spy ware up-to-date.
  • Enable e-mail filters.
  • Do not use an obvious password, such as birth dates, mother’s maiden name, pet’s name, last four digits of your Social Security number, etc. Protect your PINs and computer passwords; use a combination of letters, numbers and special characters and change them often. Never carry this information with you.
  • Shred all financial documents and paperwork before discarding them.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Only give it out if it is necessary or ask to use another identifier.
  • Keep you personal information in a secure place.
  • Notify your financial institution immediately when you discover a potentially fraudulent transaction.
  • Report lost or stolen SHAZAM® debit or ATM cards to 800-383-8000.

Above all, monitor your financial statements and credit report regularly fro unauthorized purchases or debts. The three nationwide consumer-reporting companies provide a free copy of your credit report each year when you ask for it. Contact information is:

Equifax – 888-766-0008 or 800-525-6285
Experian – 888-397-3742
Trans Union – 800-680-7289

You can visit www.shazam.net/fightback for more information on educating yourself about social engineering scams and ways to combat fraud.

Shopping Online

Shopping on the internet offers benefits that you won’t find shopping in the store. The Internet is always open. But before you use the Internet, remember the following tips to make your online shopping experience a safe one.

  • Use a secure browser. Most computers come with a browser installed.
  • Shop with companies you know. If you’re not familiar with a merchant, ask for a paper catalog or brochure to get a better idea of their merchandise and services. Also, determine the company’s refund and return policy.
  • Keep your password private.
  • Pay by credit or charge card. If you pay by credit or charge card online, the Fair Credit Billing Act will protect your transaction. Under this law, you have the right to dispute charges under certain circumstances and temporarily withhold payment while the creditor is investigating them. In the event of unauthorized use of your credit or charge card, you generally would be held liable only for the first $50 in charges. Some companies offer an online shopping guarantee that ensures you will not be held responsible for any unauthorized charges made online, and some cards may provide additional warranty, return and/or purchase protection benefits.
  • Keep a record. Make sure you print a copy of your order and confirmation number for your records.

Safe Mobile Banking: Tips for Protecting Yourself

Using a smartphone, "tablet" computer or other mobile device to manage your finances can be convenient and help you monitor your money from practically anywhere. At the same time, it's important to take steps to protect your account information.

  • Be proactive in securing the mobile device itself.  Depending on what security options are available on your device, create a "strong" password (consisting of unusual combinations of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols) or PIN (with random numbers instead of, say, 1234 or the last four digits  of your Social Security number) and peroidically change it. Don't give your password or PIN to anyone or write it down anywhere.  Also, never leave you mobile device unattended.  And make sure you enable the "auto-lock" or "time-out" feature that secures your mobile device when it is left unused for a certain period of time.

  • Be careful about where and how you conduct transactions.  Don't use an unsecured Wi-Fi network, such as those found at coffee shops, because fraud artists might be able to access the information you are transmitting or viewing. Also, don't send account numbers or other sensitive information through regular e-mails ot text messages because those are not necessarily secure.

  • Take additional precautions in case your device is lost or stolen. Check with your wireless provider in advance to find out about features that enable you to remotely erase content or turn off access to your device or account in the event you lose it.  Quickly contact your financial service providers to let them know about the loss of theft of your device.  Notifying your bank quickly will help prevent or resolve problems with unauthorized transactions.

  • Research any application ("app") before downloading it. Just because the name of the app resembles the name of your bank - or of another company you're familiar with - don't assume that it is the official one of that bank or company. It could be a fraudulent app designed to trick users into believing that the service is legitimate. The best place to download an app is from the official Web site of the bank or company that you are doing business with or from a legitimate app store. Note that the business will often direct you to an app store.  Also, if possible, be sure to protect your financial apps, ideally with a password that is different from the password for your device.

  • Be on guard against unsolicited e-mails or text messages appearing to link to a financial institution's Web site. These could be "phishing" messages containing some sort of urgent request (such as a warning that you need to "verify" bank account or other personal information) or an amazing offer (one this is "too good to be true") designed to lead you to a fake Web site controlled by thieves. The concern is that on that fraudulent site you may provide sensitive information while believing you are providing the information to your bank or another trusted party.

How to Protect Yourself From Data Breaches

"While there isn't really anything consumers can do to prevent a breach, you can be on the lookout for signs that something like this has occurred," said Jeff Kopchik, a Senior Policy Analyst with the FDIC. "And, if you receive formal notice from your bank or a retailer that your credit or debit card information was stolen as a result of a breach, there are steps you can take to protect yourself."

How can you avoid losing money due to a security breach?

Review your bank and credit card statements regularly to look for suspicious transactions. If you have online access to your bank and credit card accounts, it is a good idea to check them regularly, perhaps weekly, for transactions that aren't yours.

Contact your bank or credit card issuer immediately to report a problem. Debit card users in particular should promptly report a lost card or an unauthorized transaction.

Periodically review your credit reports to make sure someone hasn't obtained credit in your name. By law, you can request a free copy of your credit report from each of the three major consumer reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) once every 12 months. Because their reports may differ, consider spreading out your requests during the year. To order a free report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

If you find an unfamiliar account on your credit report, call the fraud department at the consumer reporting agency that produced it. If that account turns out to be fraudulent, consider asking for a "fraud alert" to be placed in your file at the three main credit bureaus. The alert tells lenders and other users of credit reports that you have been a victim of fraud and that they should verify any new accounts being opened in your name or changes to your existing accounts.

What if you place a fraud alert in your credit files and then you apply somewhere for a new credit card, mortgage or other loan? Expect that the lender will call you for a confirmation. However, be aware that the fraud alert also may slow down the process of obtaining that new credit while the lender verifies your identity.

An additional but more serious step is to place a "credit freeze" on your credit report, which means that the credit bureaus cannot provide your credit report to lenders who request it. That, in turn, may prevent criminals from obtaining credit in your name, but it also will stop you from getting new credit until you lift the freeze.

Pay attention to notices from your retailer or your bank about a security breach. In the event of a large-scale breach, you may receive notice that your credit card is being replaced with one that has a new account number.

Also, the retailer may offer you free credit-monitoring services, usually for up to one year. "This service provides an excellent way to see if a cyber thief is using the stolen information to apply for new credit cards or loans in your name," Kopchik said. "And if you are not offered free credit monitoring, you may want to consider buying it at your own expense." Note: A credit-monitoring service can be costly, so research the options thoroughly and understand that you can monitor your own credit reports for free, as previously described.

Be on guard against scams offering "help" after a data breach. Be very careful about responding to an unsolicited e-mail promoting credit monitoring services, since many of these offers are fraudulent. If you're interested in credit monitoring and it's not being offered for free by your retailer or bank, do your own independent research to find a reputable service.

10 Ways to Protect Your Personal Information and Money

The news often includes reports about thieves gaining access to sensitive personal information that can be used to commit fraud or steal money, sometimes involving major security breaches at large companies such as retailers. "These reports may cause some consumers to be skeptical about engaging in even the simplest financial transactions, but that is unrealistic for most people, especially in today's online and electronic world," said Michael Benardo, Chief of the FDIC's Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. "That's why it's important to be vigilant about protecting your finances by taking some reasonable precautions."

While federal laws and industry practices generally limit losses for unauthorized transactions involving bank accounts, debit cards and credit cards, it pays to be proactive. Here are 10 things you can do to help protect yourself:

1. Know that offers that seem "too good to be true" are probably a fraud. Crooks often pose as businesses promising or guaranteeing high interest rates, high-paying jobs or other "opportunities," such as a big prize or lottery winnings for which you must pay taxes or other charges upfront. Be especially careful if someone pressures you to make a quick decision or if you are asked to send money or provide bank account information before receiving anything in return.

2. Guard against scams involving fraudulent checks and requests to wire money or send a prepaid card. A stranger or unfamiliar company might send you a check for more than you are due for an online sale and ask you to deposit the check and wire back the difference. Or, you might be asked to send a prepaid card to the crook. "If you send a wire transfer or a prepaid card, the money is immediately removed from your account, but the check you deposited may not have cleared. If that check is counterfeit, your financial institution would likely hold you responsible for the losses," said Benardo.  "Also," he added, "if you are selling something online, be wary of a request by a 'buyer' to wire you the money because that may be a ruse to get your bank account information."

3. Be suspicious about unsolicited e-mails or text messages asking you to click on a link or open an attachment. Crooks are known to distribute and install malicious software ("malware") that can capture passwords and PIN numbers. This information could be used to gain access to your online banking sites.

4. Don't give out personal information to anyone unless you initiate the contact and know the other party is reputable. "Crooks pretending to be from legitimate companies or government agencies often contact people asking them to 'confirm' or 'update' confidential information," explained Kathryn Weatherby, a fraud examination specialist for the FDIC. "But your bank, credit card issuer and government agencies would never contact you asking for personal details such as bank account information, credit and debit card numbers, Social Security numbers and passwords. Presume that any such request by phone, text message, fax, e-mail or letter is fraudulent."

5. Carefully choose user IDs and passwords for your computers, mobile devices, and online accounts. For unlocking devices and logging into Web sites and apps, create "strong" IDs and passwords with combinations of upper- and lower-case letters, numbers and symbols that are hard to guess, and then change them regularly.

6. Be careful when using social networking sites. Scammers use social networking sites to gather details about individuals, such as their place or date of birth, a pet's name, their mother's maiden name, and other information that can help them figure out passwords — or how to reset them. Even small tidbits of information can help them steal your identity, such as by answering security questions that control access to accounts. "Don't share your 'page' or access to your information with anyone you don't know and trust," said Benardo. "Criminals may pretend to be your 'friend' to convince you to send money or divulge personal information."

Fraudsters also have become sophisticated at creating fake social networking sites for financial institutions and other businesses.

7. Regularly review your transaction history. Look at your bank statements, credit card bills or other transaction histories – preferably as soon as they arrive – and make sure you had authorized all of the transactions. Immediately report to your financial institution any suspicious activity, such as an unfamiliar charge. "Many financial services providers allow you to conveniently check your transaction history on their Web site or through an app on a mobile device," noted Weatherby.

8. Periodically review your credit reports to make sure someone hasn't obtained a credit card or a loan in your name. Ask for a free copy from each of the nation's three major credit reporting agencies (also known as credit bureaus) because their reports may differ, but spread out the requests during the year. For more information and to order a report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

If you find an unfamiliar account on your report, call the fraud department at the credit reporting agency that produced it. If the account turns out to be fraudulent, ask for a fraud alert to be placed in your file at all three of the major credit bureaus. The alert tells lenders and other users of credit reports that you have been a victim of fraud and to verify any new accounts or changes to accounts in your name.

9. Protect your personal financial documents. Keep bank and credit card statements, tax returns and blank checks in a secure place. And, shred any sensitive documents instead of just throwing them in the trash, because thieves look through trash to find this type of information to commit identity theft or other crimes.

10. Guard your incoming and outgoing mail. From time to time, your mailbox may contain credit card or bank statements, documents showing confidential information, or checks you are sending. For incoming mail, try to use a locked mailbox or a mailbox in a secure location. Put outgoing mail, especially if it contains a check or personal information, in a U.S. Postal Service mailbox or take it to the post office.

Avoiding Scams: Sticking to the Basics Can Go a Long Way

There is plenty of information available to consumers to help avoid being a fraud or theft victim. "But some people complain that there is too much to remember and that being vigilant can be a daunting task," said Millie Spencer, a financial crimes specialist with the FDIC. Here's a short list of simple ways to avoid many financial crimes.

Never provide passwords, credit or debit card information, Social Security numbers and similar personal information in response to an unsolicited text message, e-mail, call or letter. An identity thief can use this information to apply for credit cards or loans, access your bank accounts online or otherwise commit fraud using your name.

Crooks often send e-mails, text messages or phone messages that appear to be from a legitimate, trusted organization asking consumers to "verify" or "update" personal information. The scam is called phishing (pronounced "fishing") because the criminals throw out bait in hopes of luring a consumer into biting.

Criminals also create bogus Web sites in hopes that consumers will enter valuable personal information. "We've seen everything from fake bank Web sites to sites offering payday loans or credit repair services," added Michael Benardo, Manager of the FDIC's Cyber Fraud and Financial Crimes Section. "Some of these sites offer incredibly low prices or other enticing promotions."

And, as Spencer noted, "Always be suspicious of these types of requests because a legitimate organization would not solicit updates in an unsecured manner for information it already has."

Think twice before opening attachments or clicking on links in unsolicited e-mails and text messages. These messages may install "malware" (malicious software) on your computer or cellphone. "This software could allow crooks to spy on you and gain access to your online banking sites," explained Benardo.

To confirm a message's validity, contact the supposed sender. "But don't automatically assume the contact information listed in the e-mail is accurate," said Benardo. He recommended finding the telephone number, Web site or e-mail address from an independent, reliable source.

Deal only with reputable merchants, service providers and charities. Friends and family may be able to provide recommendations. You can search for complaints against a business by contacting your state or local consumer affairs office (www.consumeraction.gov/state.shtml) and your local Better Business Bureau (www.bbbonline.com). There also are popular sites on the Internet for consumer ratings and reviews of businesses.

Fraud artists also claim to be from legitimate charitable organizations — especially after a major disaster — and ask for "donations." The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance (www.give.org) and other organizations can help you find legitimate charities with good reputations.

Be on guard against counterfeit checks, cashier's checks or money orders. These often are associated with scams that say you have won a lottery or other prize, are bogus work-from-home offers, or are attempts to steal something you are selling on the Internet. They can also be associated with offers to purchase items you are selling online or through classified ads. Be especially leery if you get a check for more than the amount due and you're instructed to return the difference by depositing the check and wiring the excess amount to the other party's account or to an associate. If the check turns out to be counterfeit, you will be out the money regardless of whether you sent a check, wire or cash.

Be wary of unsolicited investment offers that sound too good to pass up or that require you to act fast.  "Statements about low-risk investments with ‘guaranteed returns' that are unusually high are red flags," said Luke W. Reynolds, Acting Associate Director in the FDIC's Division of Depositor and Consumer Protection.

He also advised walking away from any offer that involves pressure to pay cash or provide personal information right away.

Protect your mail and other documents at home. Thieves know that credit card or bank statements and other documents contain valuable, confidential information. Try to use a secure mailbox for your incoming mail. Keep bank and credit card statements, tax returns, credit and debit cards and blank checks secure, even at home. Also shred sensitive documents before discarding them. Similarly, use an updated security program to protect your computer.

Look at your bank statements and credit card bills as soon as they arrive. Immediately report any discrepancy or anything suspicious, such as an unauthorized withdrawal or charge, to your financial institution.

Periodically review your credit reports and dispute any inaccurate information, which could indicate identity theft. You are entitled to a free copy from each of the nation's three major credit bureaus every 12 months. To request a credit report, go to www.AnnualCreditReport.com or call toll-free 1-877-322-8228.

5 Things You Can Do to...Avoid Costly Scams Involving Fake Checks and Money Orders

Consumers and businesses often lose thousands of dollars in transactions with con artists.

There's been explosive growth in counterfeit personal and business checks, cashier's checks and money orders in the last few years, due in part to new technologies and the growth of the Internet for transactions among strangers. But what's especially troubling is that individual consumers and businesses are losing significant sums in these scams – often thousands of dollars – because they deposited a check from a stranger, withdrew the funds and then sent money or merchandise before their bank discovered that the check was fraudulent.

In these cases, the depositor most likely will be held responsible for the entire amount of the fraudulent check. Why? Because by depositing the check and withdrawing money, the consumer is taking responsibility for the funds that have been spent or sent before the check is found to be worthless. And often the withdrawal cannot be cancelled or reversed, especially with wire transfers, in which funds are transferred out of the account immediately. Also, the person who receives the check usually is in the best position to realize that it may not be good.

Money isn't the only thing that can be lost to a fake check scam. In one example reported to the FDIC several years ago, a person "sold" a classic car then worth $41,000 to a scam artist who used a counterfeit cashier's check.

FDIC Consumer News has been warning readers about check fraud for years, but given the increase in fake checks and the costs to victims, we offer these key reminders.

1. If you deposit a check from a stranger, discuss the situation with your bank before spending that money or handing over anything of value. It's safer not to accept checks from strangers, but if you do, tell the bank about the circumstances surrounding the check and ask when the check is likely to be considered "good" (paid).

While federal regulations require institutions to make funds from a deposit available quickly – generally within one to five business days – it can take a couple of weeks or longer before the bank discovers that the deposited check is worthless.

"The check could be counterfeit or bounce because of insufficient funds, and your bank will most likely hold you responsible for that money," said Michael Benardo, manager of the FDIC's financial crimes section. "If the other party badgers you at any time about waiting, especially if you are directed to send funds, tear up their check and stop all communications."

So, protect yourself by not touching the deposited funds until you explain to your bank the details of the transaction and the source of the check, and you wait for the bank's go-ahead to use the funds.

2. Walk away from any deal if you get a check for more than the amount due and you're instructed to return the difference. Let's say you sell a $5,000 item over the Internet and the buyer sends a check or money order for $10,000. The buyer, who has an explanation why the check is for more than what you expected, instructs you to deposit the check and wire the excess amount to his account or to the account of an associate. It may take a couple of weeks, but eventually the check will be returned as counterfeit.

Using our example, you may need to reimburse your bank for $10,000, even if that's far more money than you have in your account. You may also have lost the item you were selling.

3. Recognize other warning signs of a check scam. "It's very difficult for the average consumer or business owner or even bank teller to recognize a counterfeit check, so you're usually better off looking for the basic signs of a scam instead of focusing on the check itself," said David Nelson, a fraud specialist at the FDIC.

In addition to the warning signs we've already described, here are other red flags of a check fraud (and additional commentary from Nelson):

•The reasons for receiving a check are suspicious. ("How could you win a lottery you never entered? And if you really won something and owed money, why wouldn't they just deduct that amount from your winnings?")

•You're asked to send money outside of the United States. ("That's because it is difficult to track people down in another country.")

•You're pressed to send money right away. ("They're rushing you to act before you discover that the check is bad.")

•You're warned to keep things quiet – to not discuss the deal with a bank employee or anyone else. ("It's to prevent your banker or others from warning you about a counterfeit check.")

4. Take additional precautions to make sure a check is good. Consider insisting on being paid with a money order or a cashier's check (not a personal check) drawn on a local bank or a bank that has a local branch. That way you can take the check to that bank to ensure it's valid.

Also consider asking for a money order from the U.S. Postal Service. To confirm that a Postal Service money order is valid or to cash it, you can take it to a local post office. You can also verify a Postal Service money order by using an automated service at toll-free 1-866-459-7822.

Private financial services companies also issue money orders, but it's up to you to take appropriate precautions.

For example, "Don't depend on a phone number that's printed on a check or money order," Nelson stressed. "If this is a fraud, one of the criminals may answer and tell you that the check or money order is legitimate, or you may get a voice mailbox that the swindlers set up to sound real and reassuring."

In general, it's always best to use a phone number listed in your phone book or another directory, not the number printed on a check or money order or told to you by the other party.

Another way to be more comfortable that you're dealing with an honest person – especially someone you're dealing with over the Internet – is to try to confirm his or her name, address, home number and work number through some independent means, such as an online database or directory assistance.

5. Immediately report if you think you're a victim of a check fraud or if you notice something suspicious. Contact your bank as well as the local office of the FBI (listed in your phone book and on the FBI Web site at www.fbi.gov/majcases/fraud/fraudschemes.htm).

Ten Steps to Smartphone Security

Smartphones continue to grow in popularity and are now as powerful and functional as many computers. It is important to protect your smartphone just like you protect your computer as mobile cybersecurity threats are growing. These mobile security tips can help you reduce the risk of exposure to mobile security threats:

1. Set PINs and passwords. To prevent unauthorized access to your phone, set a password or Personal Identification Number (PIN) on your phone’s home screen as a first line of defense in case your phone is lost or stolen. When possible, use a different password for each of your important log-ins (email, banking, personal sites, etc.). You should configure your phone to automatically lock after five minutes or less when your phone is idle, as well as use the SIM password capability available on most smartphones.

2. Do not modify your smartphone’s security settings. Do not alter security settings for convenience. Tampering with your phone’s factory settings, jailbreaking, or rooting your phone undermines the built-in security features offered by your wireless service and smartphone, while making it more susceptible to an attack.

3. Backup and secure your data. You should backup all of the data stored on your phone – such as your contacts, documents, and photos. These files can be stored on your computer, on a removal storage card, or in the cloud. This will allow you to conveniently restore the information to your phone should it be lost, stolen, or otherwise erased.

4. Only install apps from trusted sources. Before downloading an app, conduct research to ensure the app is legitimate. Checking the legitimacy of an app may include such thing as: checking reviews, confirming the legitimacy of the app store, and comparing the app sponsor’s official website with the app store link to confirm consistency. Many apps from untrusted sources contain malware that once installed can steal information, install viruses, and cause harm to your phone’s contents. There are also apps that warn you if any security risks exist on your phone.

5. Understand app permissions before accepting them. You should be cautious about granting applications access to personal information on your phone or otherwise letting the application have access to perform functions on your phone. Make sure to also check the privacy settings for each app before installing.

6. Install security apps that enable remote location and wiping. An important security feature widely available on smartphones, either by default or as an app, is the ability to remotely locate and erase all of the data stored on your phone, even if the phone’s GPS is off. In the case that you misplace your phone, some applications can activate a loud alarm, even if your phone is on silent. These apps can also help you locate and recover your phone when lost. Visit CTIA for a full list of anti-theft protection apps.

7. Accept updates and patches to your smartphone’s software. You should keep your phone’s operating system software up-to-date by enabling automatic updates or accepting updates when prompted from your service provider, operating system provider, device manufacturer, or application provider. By keeping your operating system current, you reduce the risk of exposure to cyber threats.

8. Be smart on open Wi-Fi networks. When you access a Wi-Fi network that is open to the public, your phone can be an easy target of cybercriminals. You should limit your use of public hotspots and instead use protected Wi-Fi from a network operator you trust or mobile wireless connection to reduce your risk of exposure, especially when accessing personal or sensitive information. Always be aware when clicking web links and be particularly cautious if you are asked to enter account or log-in information.

9. Wipe data on your old phone before you donate, resell, or recycle it. Your smartphone contains personal data you want to keep private when you dispose your old phone. To protect your privacy, completely erase data off of your phone and reset the phone to its initial factory settings. Then, donate, resell, recycle, or otherwise properly dispose of your phone.

10. Report a stolen smartphone. The major wireless service providers, in coordination with the FCC, have established a stolen phone database. If your phone is stolen, you should report the theft to your local law enforcement authorities and then register the stolen phone with your wireless provider. This will provide notice to all the major wireless service providers that the phone has been stolen and will allow for remote “bricking” of the phone so that it cannot be activated on any wireless network without your permission.


1. Do Not Give Your Password Out to Anyone

You should never share your passwords; otherwise, this could put your data and sensitive information, at risk.

2. Use Different Passwords for Different Accounts

You should never use a single password for all of your accounts. You should create a different password for each of your accounts so you can eliminate potential security issues.

3. Create Passwords That Include Capital Letters, Numbers and Special Characters

It is dangerous to use simple passwords. Ideally, a password should contain at least eight characters and feature a mix of capital letters, numbers and special characters, unless the site does not allow use of all those features.

4. Don't Fall for Phishing Attacks

Phishing attacks can cause long-lasting damage to you. Be careful of the sites you visit and sites you click on in your email messages. 

5. Secure Your Mobile Devices

Make sure you password-protect your mobile devices to reduce the risk of critical data falling into the wrong hands if your gadgets are ever lost or stolen.

6. Avoid Dictionary Words

Avoid using dictionary words in your passwords. By doing so, you can make it tougher for cybercriminals to launch malware, viruses or other cyber-attacks successfully.  

7. Don't Use Sticky Notes

Don’t post sticky notes on your computers to track your accounts and passwords, this practice can be dangerous.  

8. Update Your Antivirus Software

Do you have up-to-date antivirus software on your computer? If not, critical data could be at risk.

9. Change Passwords

One of your best defenses for security is changing your password.  Most sites require password changes, but if they don’t, consider changing it no less than annually.  


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