Each time we log-in to pay a bill or check an account balance, data is conveniently and instantaneously sent across a multitude of platforms. Unfortunately, this modern convenience is not without its risk and your data may be used against you.
Last year, my Consumer Protection Mediation Center handled 3,500 consumer complaints - nearly 500 related to scams and fraud. In observance of International Data Privacy Day, I'm encouraging you to proactively protect your privacy. Take the time to educate yourself about online scams and work to protect your personal data.
Scammers use fraudulent email offers or text messages to lure consumers into providing personal information that can be used to perpetrate identity theft. They may encourage consumers to follow links to fraudulent websites that install computer spyware or other data collecting programs. Regardless of their tactics, these fraudsters are hoping to use your personal information for their own gain.
Here a few tips to help you protect your data privacy:
Create Unique Passwords
One of the most common privacy mistakes is making a password too simple. Online passwords should be updated at least every other month.
When choosing a password:
· Make it unique and not easily guessed.
· Use at least one uppercase letter and a number.
· Eliminate personal information from passwords. Birthdates, phone numbers and Social Security numbers should not be used.
· Create different passwords for each online account.
· Record your passwords and keep the document in a secure location. Don't carry it with you unless it is absolutely necessary.
Secure Your Computer and Internal Data
Regular maintenance of computer software can provide protections against viruses and other threats to your computer.
To help keep your data secure:
· Update your operating system, web browser and software. Utilizing outdated software may leave you unprotected from the latest security threats.
· Don't follow links from unsolicited emails or web page pop-ups. Only download programs or software updates from trusted sources.
· Back up your computer. Save all important files, documents, media and other digital information onto a digital copy. Keep it in a secure location.
· Use virus scanning software regularly. Many computers have virus protection installed by the manufacturer. If your computer doesn't have virus protection, ask a trusted retailer or service technician for recommendations.
Secure Your Mobile Device
Cell phones allow us to be accessible anywhere and can be invaluable in emergencies. Cell phones also store an abundance of personal data that may be used to track your habits.
To maintain security of your mobile device:
· Protect your mobile device with a password.
· Manage privacy settings on applications, especially those related to social media and photo sharing.
Page 2 of 2 - · Research what information will be gathered by applications before installation. Some applications record your location, Internet searches and other data.
· Alert your service provider to unsolicited text message offers or unauthorized application installations.
For more information on protecting yourself from online scams and frauds, visit our website at www.ago.ne.gov or call our Consumer Hotline at (800) 727-6432.