With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days. And, the recent increase in devices, from smartphones and tablets to Internet-connected appliances, has opened us up to even greater risks. Criminal Internet activity seems to continue to rise making online safety a concern. The FBI received more than 300,000 complaints in 2017 with more than 1.4 billion in reported losses.
But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats. Learn how to protect yourself, your family and devices with these tips and resources.
1. Pump Up Your Password
Creating strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe. Aim for at least eight characters (the more, the better). Include numbers and special characters, and avoid using names or words associated with you. Be sure to change your passwords regularly and you may find it helpful to use a Password Manager App to help you store and create strong passwords for all your accounts.
2. Verify The Sender
Legitimate financial institutions and businesses, including Genisys Credit Union, will not send an email to ask for passwords or account numbers or other identifying personal information.
3. Don’t Click On Links
Many of today’s online threats are based on phishing or social engineering. This is when you are tricked into revealing personal information for fraudulent purposes. Hover your mouse over the link to see the true destination. If it’s different than what’s shown in the email, it’s likely a scam. (Links leading to .exe files are known to spread malicious software.)
4. Delete, Delete, Delete
Immediately delete unsolicited emails from unknown senders. Never forward a suspicious email to family, friends or co-workers - even as a warning.
5. Don’t Respond To Threats
Cybercriminals often use threats, like telling you your account will be closed if you don’t respond to the email. Or they will lie by telling you your security has been compromised to get you to take action. Be suspicious of any email that requires immediate action.
6. Practice Safe Surfing & Shopping
When shopping or banking online, look for a padlock symbol somewhere in the web browser, usually in front of the page address. This, along with web addresses that begin with “https” indicates that the website is secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by others.
7. Use Safe Payment Options
Most credit card issuers allow you to request a refund if your product is not delivered as expected or differs from what was ordered.
8. Be Software Savvy
Protect your devices with anti-virus software. Regularly install updates to programs and apps; they often include improved security settings.
9. Secure Your WI-FI
Make sure your home Wi-Fi is protected with a strong password that only your family knows. Don’t use unsecured networks when you’re out and about.
10. Keep It Private
Check the privacy settings on all your social media accounts. Make sure only the people you want to share your information with can see it.
Keep these 10 Internet safety rules in mind and you'll avoid many of the nasty surprises that lurk online. It's important to remember that your financial institution will never solicit you for your personal information. They will only ask for this information to verify your identity if you are initiating the contact. If you feel that any of your accounts or credit cards have been compromised, contact your financial institution immediately.
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