Use unique passwords for everything and change them often
In 2020,Security Magazine reported that 53% of people use the same password for all their online accounts, and that 75% of people use the same password for multiple accounts.1
It’s important to understand that, if the right type of computer is dedicated to probing you, even the greatest passwords (long, detailed, personal) can eventually be hacked. But even if you get hacked, if you regularly change your passwords, by the time the crooks get around to ripping you off, they’ll no longer be able to gain access.
And while it may seem complicated, using unique passwords for every single account you have keeps a small, preventable breach from becoming a massive headache that could take years to clean up.
Get creative with your usernames
Remember, usernames, unlike passwords, are rarely hidden. And once anyone, from a hacker to a marketer, has your username, they can find a lot of information about you online.
Are you one of those individuals who is creative with your passwords, but then mails it in with your username? Utilizing different usernames for every account, and, just like passwords, changing them often, goes a long way toward protecting you from scams and cyber theft.
While there are all sorts of strategies you can employ, a great first step is to never use your actual name or surname for any account.
Activate a one-two punch
Cyber theft may be a thriving business, but one of the simplest and most ingenious roadblocks to those types of crimes is using two-step verification. This means that in addition to a password, access to your account(s) requires a second step such as a passcode (that’s texted to you) or the use of your thumbprint.
Be it when I gas up my car, or make a retail purchase at a store, every time I enter my pin I first glance around to make certain no one is watching, and then I cover the keypad with my free hand.
Also, if you are in the habit of making purchases on your computer, or phone, do it in a private location so no one can see your credit card number.
Allow your financial institutions to contact you when they suspect fraud
Via phone and email, we’re besieged by salespeople at every turn. This can motivate us to hastily decline the offer to receive fraud alerts when we open accounts.
Don’t do that.
When your bank or financial institution offers to contact you to verify any suspicious or large purchase, it’s not an intrusion, they are doing you (and themselves) a big favor.
Don’t give information to anyone who calls you on the phone
Ever received a call from the IRS threatening you with arrest if you don’t immediately pay the money you owe?
The IRS will never call you and threaten you (if you owe the IRS, they’ll let you know by mail). Same goes for the Social Security Administration.
Limit your photo sharing on social media
A huge percentage of Twitter and Facebook users are people pretending to be someone else, or bots. Computers and social networking sites have combined to remove a layer of privacy that we used to take for granted. When you go on vacation, wait until after the trip to post photos so thieves don’t know you aren’t at home.
Getting ripped off is time consuming, embarrassing, and potentially ruinous to both your credit rating and finances. These simple steps won’t guarantee your safety, but they will make it a lot more difficult for thieves who are trying to scam you.
Put it on your calendar so that every few months you set aside an hour to reset your passwords and usernames. And, if you aren’t already doing it, initiate two-step verification for every service you use and each account you have.