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Steps to Protecting Your Personal Information

  1. Guard your Social Security number as you would your cash. Your name and Social Security number are all a thief needs to obtain credit or borrow money in your name, costing you time and money to recover.
  2. Protect your credit card numbers. Never enter a credit card number into an email. Before using your credit card online, look at the web address. Does it include "https" in the URL? If so, the connection is encrypted and it is safe to make an online purchase. If the address only has "http," the connection is not secure and you should not enter your credit card number or other personal information.
  3. Be careful with social media. Social media is all about sharing, but sharing too much can expose you to fraud. Understand and use the available security filters. Avoid posting information and photographs that you don’t want others to see.
  4. Shred documents that include personal information, including account numbers and credit lines. Your trash can be a gold mine to thieves looking for information to steal.
  5. Never provide personal information over the phone to someone you did not call. The person may not be who they say or who caller ID says.
  6. Read End User Licensing Agreements, or EULAs, before accepting. Most web sites and software installations require you to agree to a EULA, but read carefully before accepting. The EULA might allow the website or software to collect and sell your information.
  7. Cloud computing is easy to use, accessible from anywhere, and often cheaper than alternative storage, but the data you store in the cloud might become the property of the cloud owner. In some cases, the vendor retains the right to access and use your data. Always read the End User Licensing Agreement carefully.

Top 10 Tips to Choosing Passwords

Nobody likes struggling with passwords, but they are key component in your online security. Follow these basic tips when selecting your passwords to will make your information more secure.

  1. Keep your passwords secure. Don't share them or write them down.
  2. Email passwords should be as strong as your online banking password. If the password is easy to crack, your email account can be used to access other passwords and expose you to fraud.
  3. Don't use passwords that are be found in a dictionary.
  4. Don't use passwords that are easy to guess. For example, if you are a big Boston baseball fan, redsox is a bad password choice.
  5. Consider using a favorite quote or song lyric. Take the first or second letter of each word and use that as a password.
  6. Make your passwords stronger by substituting characters for letters:  + for t, @ for a, $ for s, and ! for I or L.
  7. Swap numbers for letters: 3 for E, 8 for B.
  8. Use both upper and lower case letters.
  9. Change your passwords periodically.
  10. Choose passwords that are least eight characters long.

Avoid Email Scams

Fraudulent emails can infect your computer with malicious software. A photo or document you open can contain viruses that will take over your computer. A website you visit can install software on your computer without you realizing it.

You can protect yourself from viruses by not opening email attachments or clicking links if they don’t make sense or are from an unknown sender.