Data breaches are all too common and seem to happen more and more every day. Identity theft happens too frequently, too. We know how to protect ourselves from would-be burglars in our homes, but what about in our digital life? You can’t prevent all cyber attacks and identity theft attempts, but you can guard against it. Here are a few things you can do to help protect yourself and your family.
Take Care of Your Devices
Your smartphones, computers, and mobile tablets are all vulnerable to hacks and attacks. Here are some things you can do to protect yourself.
- Delete any excess files you no longer need so you have less information for someone to get their hands on if you’re hacked.
- Add a paid anti-virus, anti-malware, and firewall protection to all your devices. Don’t go for the free services as they’re unreliable and don’t fully protect you.
- Use PINs, passwords, or fingerprint identification on your devices where possible.
- Make sure your kids use passcodes for their devices. Tell your kids not to share that information with anyone but you, their parents.
Watch Your Online and Email Use
Being online is one of the biggest cybersecurity threats, but it’s not like we can ever go completely offline, either. Since the internet is such a big part of our lives, it’s best to know how to navigate it safely.
- Use a virtual private network (VPN) on your computer or mobile devices when on public wifi. VPNs encrypt all your messages so hackers can’t access the information.
- Create strong passwords with upper and lower case letters, numbers, and symbols.
- Never use the same password for more than one website. If you use the same password over and over again, hackers can get into all your digital accounts with a single hack.
- Use two-factor authentication whenever possible. This requires that you use a second step to login to an account with a code sent to your phone.
- Don’t open files or click on links when you don’t recognize who sent the email or if something looks fishy about the email.
- If you get an email from a financial institution asking you to click a link to verify your information, stop immediately. Call the bank or credit card company to confirm they sent the email - most of the time, it’s an attempted hack.
- Do not share personal information like your social security number through email.
- Try to use websites that begin with “https” instead of “http.” That extra “s” means the website is more secure and is better able to protect your information.
Be Mindful of Your Information Offline
We tend to think of identity theft as an online problem, but in reality, it’s an offline one, too. Identity theft isn’t new, only the tricks being used.
- Only give out your social security number when absolutely necessary. Don’t carry your card with you. Keep it in a safe place at home.
- Pick up your mail quickly to avoid anyone stealing credit card offers or bank statements. If you’re going to be out of town, put a hold on your mail.
- If you don’t receive your snail mail bill on time, call the company. It’s possible someone has picked it up from your mailbox to get your information.
- Review credit card and bank statements against receipts for your purchases to make sure it matches. Call the bank if you see something you don’t recognize.
- Shred receipts, credit card offers, and anything with your personal information on it.
- Protect your children’s social security number and only give it out when you absolutely have to.
- Ask your child’s school, daycare, and anyone else with their information how they protect sensitive data.
- Look for signs of identity theft for yourself and your child: being turned down for government benefits because they’re already being received, receiving an IRS bill for money owed, or collection calls for expenses you didn’t make.
You’re committed to keeping your family safe from harm. That’s why you have homeowners, auto, and life insurance. Keep everyone safe from cyber security and identity theft threats too. It doesn’t take a lot of work, only a few precautions.
Charlotte Insurance is in the business of helping you protect what matters most. Give us a call for all your insurance needs and questions. We’re happy to help!