Spring has sprung! Iowans are out in the yard clearing brush collected over the winter, and indoors on rainy days cleaning up from a winter inside. While you are sprucing up the house, also make sure to set aside time to review, check-up, and clean up your personal and financial privacy settings and protection plans.
Step 1: Update your passwords!
Identity thieves love it when people and businesses set and keep the same passwords for years. If you don’t update your passwords an identity thief who gained your password through a privacy breach has an open road to your personal data. You can prevent fraud by changing your password at least once every year.
When you change passwords, don’t just change a digit or two, use a more complex phrase or sentence, or consider using an online random password generator to produce a password that virtually no human or machine could crack. Try to be unpredictable, don’t use common words, phrases, or other passwords that would be easy to guess. Use a mix of numbers, letters, and symbols. Don’t use the same passwords for separate accounts.
Step 2: Make sure your device software is up to date and install and update computer security software.
Check your smart phones, tablets, laptops, PC’s and other devices to ensure they are updated with the latest software versions. Providers routinely upgrade security settings and patch security holes with their updates. Better yet, set your web browser to update automatically. If you haven’t installed computer security software on your laptop or PC, check out these free providers, or choose others, but get it done:
Don’t leave your computer as a sitting target for identity thieves. Make sure you are using the latest versions. A privacy firewall is no good if it has weaknesses scam artists can use to easily access your private data.
Step 3: Check your privacy settings in social media.
Today, social media providers such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and others have more incentive than ever to protect users’ personal data. They give users tools to set varying levels of privacy. Make sure you understand your options and choose the privacy settings that are right for you.
While spring is a great time for a security check-up and clean-up, make computer and device security a regular habit. For more information about all forms of identity theft, go to our website: IowaIdTheft.org.
This page was produced by the Iowa Organization for Victim Assistance under award #2016-XV-GX-K004, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this website are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.