19 Ways to Fight Fraud
Technology has made our lives easier with online access to funds and other features such as mobile apps, budgeting tools, and online bill pay. This convenience, however, creates added potential risk for identity fraud, phishing, malware, and more. This list will help point out many ways we can be more careful with our personal information whether online or not.
- Keep your devices updated. Update your computer software such as the operating system, web browsers, antivirus software, antispyware programs, and apps. Set them to automatically update if you can.
- Protect your mobile device. Check and configure the privacy settings in your apps regularly. At the same time, check your push notifications so that sensitive data is not being displayed on your home screen. Another way to protect your mobile device is to require a password, pin, or fingerprint to unlock your device. Make sure to set your device to automatically lock after a period of inactivity. You can also enable remote location and device-wiping in case your device is stolen or lost.
- Protect your data online. Don’t use public Wi-Fi to conduct banking transactions or to send sensitive information and make sure to sign out of applications when using public computers. You should also avoid sending personal information over unencrypted websites when shopping or banking.
- Be cautious with email and downloads. Don’t open emails from unfamiliar people and question things you read. If it is too good to be true, it may not be. Also be cautious when clicking on email links as they may direct you to a URL you didn’t intend to visit. An alternative is to type the web address into your browser window. Also make sure you trust the source before downloading files.
- Protect your data on social networks. Don’t share too much information on social networking platforms and don’t forget to customize your privacy settings and review them regularly. Set up multi-factor authentication if you can.
- Protect your passwords. Don’t share your passwords or sensitive information with anyone you don’t trust and don’t save passwords in your browser even if it would be convenient. It is also a bad habit to store your passwords with your device such as having a post-it stuck to your laptop.
- Manage your passwords. If you must write down passwords, keep them in a secure, locked place. However, consider using a password management application to store all of your online usernames and passwords, allowing you to create strong passwords without having to remember them.
- Make passwords unpredictable. Don’t use the same passwords for multiple accounts and try to use passphrases instead of passwords. These are 15 characters or longer and can be a favorite song lyric, quote from a book, or something someone said to you as examples. Also using a password management application makes it easier to use complicated passwords.
- Keep your account contact information up-to-date. This helps ensure you receive communication concerning your accounts. This is very important regarding financial accounts in particular. However, thieves don’t always go after credit cards and banking accounts. If you are notified of a breach involving your driver’s license or another government document, contact the issuing agency immediately.
- Check for suspicious activity regularly. Check your financial accounts and statements regularly as well as your credit report. You are entitled to a free credit report once a year from the three credit bureaus. If you notice suspicious activity in your account, contact your financial institution and/or your credit card company. Email alerts are another way to monitor your accounts and quickly spot issues. Also keep in mind that fraudulent activity doesn’t have to be a major purchase so be mindful of small transactions too.
- Be cautious. Learn how to spot common scams and fraud including phishing, spoofing, data breaches, and malware. Don’t give out your personal information to anyone you don’t trust. Never provide it in a response to an email, a pop-up, or a website that came from an email link. Also be wary of offers to help with your account following a publicized data breach.
- Secure your wireless network. Both at home and at your business, you should secure your wireless network with a password.
- Do not run your computer as an administrator. Create a user account for normal use and only log into your computer with administrator rights when you need to do so to perform a specific task.
- Disable file and media sharing. If you are not sharing files between machines disable file and media sharing completely. If you do need to share files, only share the folders that you need to access between multiple devices.
- Back up your data. Keep backups of your data so if your data is lost, stolen, or compromised you can still retrieve it.
- Turn off your computer. When you are finished using your computer or laptop, power it off. Leaving devices on and most likely connected to the internet, opens the door for attacks.
- Avoid faxing sensitive information. It is not possible to ensure that the intended recipient is the person who receives the faxed document. If there is no other option, take precautions to ensure the intended recipient is the one who receives it.
- Get rid of old data you longer need. Shred old, hard copy documents and statements plus properly dispose of electronics making sure the hard drives are wiped or unreadable. On your computer and mobile devices, only keep the data on them you need for routine current business. This will limit potential information available to fraudsters. Also, think about places online where you have sensitive data that you no longer use such as stored credit card information. Consider cleaning up and/or deleting your old account profiles.
- Protect your children. If you are a parent, teach your kids about online risks and set up filters that restrict access to certain types of content. This may also help protect your devices from malware.