7 Ways to Defend Yourself Against Cyber Fraud

We know to be cautious and watch out for financial scams and fraudulent schemes.  There’s a lot of information about how to avoid them.  And we know we shouldn’t be giving out our private information to people we don’t know on the phone.

However, where we are becoming more and more susceptible is how we give out our information online.  Privacy seems to be becoming a thing of the past.

It’s not just social media.  We give up our personal information to other websites when we register for online services like newsletters, loyalty programs, file sharing sites, etc. 

Think about the Personal Verification Questions you’ve answered on different sites, including online banking.   A common one is, “What’s Your Mother’s Maiden Name?” but we also give out our date of birth, names of friends and pets, schools we attended and more.

Most of these questions could be answered by a bad guy with access to someone’s Facebook page.  

Defend yoursef against cyber fraud

How to protect yourself from cyber crime

We’ve heard about the cyber-attacks on retail stores, banks, credit card companies and even the government.  Don’t think you’re immune because you’re not a large organization.  No one believes that it can happen to them, until it does.

Related:  Scammers Like to Target the Elderly

Take these steps to protect you from attempts to steal your finances and your identity and keep you from becoming a victim.

1. Antivirus protection

The latest versions of Windows and Mac have built-in antivirus protection, but you need to make sure it and the operating system are always updated with the latest patches, and the features are active.  To be extra safe, install good stand-alone antivirus software that also protect against ransomware.

Download with caution.

 2. Wi-Fi Security

We rarely physically connect our devices to the internet with cable any more.  Most people now use Wi-Fi in their homes.  Where we are the most vulnerable is with public Wi-Fi which has low level security.  You should never access sensitive information such as bank accounts in a public place. 

Clear your logins, passwords and browser history when using a public computer or network.

When shopping online make sure that the websites are secure.  Ensure there is a locked padlock or unbroken key symbol on your browser.  Don’t save your bank or credit card details on the website.,

Regularly back up important files to the cloud. 

3. Use smart passwords

Simple, repeated passwords are one of the easiest ways of losing your data to cyber criminals.  I know I’m guilty of this – using the same password for many of my accounts and thinking it can never be guessed.  But if one site gets broken into, all accounts will be up for grabs.

The best thing to do is create complex, unique passwords for every account – especially for financial institutions and social media – and change them regularly.  Managing a bunch of different passwords with numbers, symbols and different case letters can be a pain, so use a password manager such as Last Pass to store all your passwords in one place.

4. Two-factor authentication

Even with the best password in the world, a hacker might still be able to reset your account with access to your email or a security question.  Two-factor authentication is the barrier that even the most expert professionals use to protect their data.   It’s called two-factor because it uses something you know – like your password – with something you have – like your smartphone.  You should enable it every time.

 5. Make sure your email account is locked

You may not realize it, but your email account is a treasure trove of information.  Gaining access to your email is the next best thing to having direct access to your bank account.  It’s a good idea to have separate e-mail accounts for your bank and other financial transactions, for online shopping and for social media accounts. 

Make sure you utilize all available security features to protect your email.

 6. Manage your social media settings

Only connect with people you actually know.  Share less and hold back vital details.  Don’t make your profile public.  Utilize all the security features you can that are offered from social media sites.

 7. Delete old profiles

If you stop using a social media site or other online service, make sure you delete your account.  Use www.deseatme to clean up your accounts.

Don’t click on suspicious links

Phishing attempts started out as phone calls and emails to trick you into giving out information about your bank account, credit card or other accounts.  Now cybercriminals are reaching out to you via text messaging. 

Cyber hackers often disguise themselves as trusted institutions like your bank or mobile phone company to manipulate you into giving up your password or PIN.  They say things like:

  • Your account will be closed if you don’t confirm your PIN by clicking on the link.
  • Set your delivery preferences for your FedEx package.
  • Click here to receive your thank you gift.

Don’t click on the links.  They often contain malicious code that can encrypt your files and lock your phone.

For any texts like these, or from someone you don’t know, delete them immediately.

The bottom line

Cyber crime – related to technology, computers and networks is the fastest growing crime nowadays. It includes identity theft, spam and phishing, and investment fraud.

Basically, cyber criminals search out naïve people so the can easily make money from them.

Make their job tough by taking precautions and using common sense and they’ll move on to another target.

Find out more about cyber crime here.

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