Posted November 26, 2019

Secure your home Wi-fi like you would your house

Enabling strong encryption on your home wireless network (WPA2 recommended), and setting a strong passphrase (12+ characters), will prevent data thieves from accessing your information. It’s also wise to change your network’s name (SSID) from the default to something not obviously belonging to you, and limit who has administrative access to your home network.

Be wary of Wi-fi hotspots and public computers

Treat each and every Wi-fi hotspot and public computer as compromised, even if it looks safe. Avoid logging into key accounts like email, banking, and online shopping accounts. Setting your device to “ask” before joining a public wireless network can prevent you from unknowingly joining a fraudulent hot spot.

Shop reliable websites, and navigate to them safely

Does that shiny offer sound too good to be true? It probably is. Don’t be fooled by the lure of unbeatable discounts by less-than-reputable websites or sketchy companies. Shop the sites of companies you are familiar with and navigate to their website only by typing a known, trusted URL into the address bar, never by clicking on a link.

Protect those beloved passwords

Passwords should always be unique, random, and never reused across multiple accounts. Make them long and strong to deter even the most devious of hackers. Re-used and non-random passwords are vulnerable to dictionary attacks-If your password is in the attacker’s dictionary or similar enough to it, cracking it can take only seconds! Generating strong, unique passwords is critical to cyber-security.

Don’t trust just anyone with your banking information

Always look for https:// (not http) in the address bar before using your credit card online. Https:/ transmits its data security using an encrypted and secured connection.

Checking your credit card and bank statements regularly is also important. Most banking apps offer text alerts for transactions or a daily summary of your current balance. Setting these alerts can help spot fraudulent activity quickly.

Watch out for seasonal scammers

Fake package tracking emails, fake e-cards, fake charity donation scams, and emails requesting that you confirm purchase information are out there in high volumes during the busy 

shopping season. Again, always use known, trusted URLs instead of clicking on links, and never open unknown and unexpected attachments.

Charity scams can be the most vicious of them all

Warning signs that a charity plea is a scam include:

  • Pressure to give immediately
  • A promise that 100% of the proceeds goes to the charity (all legitimate charities have fundraising and administrative costs).
  • The “charity” asking for personal and financial information like your social security number, date of birth, or banking information. Scammers use that information to steal money and personal identity.

Don’t assume charity pleas for help on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate and never click on links that accompany them (they can unleash malware).

Instead, do your research and contact your state’s charity regulator to verify the organization is registered to raise money there. You can also check how watchdogs like Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance rate the organization before donating.