Photo: Flickr / Jason-Morrison
It’s no secret that in today’s world, fraud prevention, online privacy and cybersecurity are complicated and constant concerns.Fraud threatens not only companies and organisations, but also individual consumers as they go about their daily business – both online and off.
Last week was National Consumer Protection Week, and to observe the event 41st Parameter joined with federal, state, and local government agencies and other security institutions to raise awareness about what individuals can do to protect themselves from identity theft, frauds and scams.
- If you get a voice mail from your credit card company that asks you to call back, only call back using the number listed on the back of your card. Never respond directly to the contact number offered in the message.
- Sign your credit and debit cards with “See ID.” This will force you to show your signature sample off your ID. Few potential fraudsters will be able to replicate your signature on his or her ID.
- Websites with questionable content will sometimes ask for a credit or debit card number “for identification purposes only.” Don’t get sucked in! Unless you are actually making a purchase, there is no need to share your card information.
- Don’t be burned by a phish. Be suspicious of any emails from a bank or credit card company requesting your account information. Contact the company directly (and not through the unsolicited email) to confirm the request.
- Perform periodic privacy checks. On a regular basis, check your Internet browser and social media site privacy settings to be sure they match your needs. After visiting secure websites, clear the cache of your browser so that no one can view any sensitive information.
- Do not click on ‘unsubscribe’ links in any unsolicited email, or reply with an unsubscribe message. Doing either will simply confirm that the spammer/scammer is reaching a live address and they will continue to keep you on their contact lists. Instead, simply delete the email.
- There are two simple signs that you’re secure while shopping online. One is the “padlock” icon located at the top of your browser window, and the other is “https” in the address bar. These confirm that the page you are on is secure and that your data will be encrypted.
- Become a password power user. Avoid obvious passwords like birthdays, addresses or phone numbers – these aren’t just easy to guess, they’re easy to get with simple searches. Most sites recommend (or even require) a minimum of eight characters and a mix of numb3r5 and 13tt3r5.
- Don’t use repeat passwords for anything involving sensitive personal information. Fraudsters will run compromised email accounts against financial institutions in case there is a repeat that will grant them access.
- Change your passwords frequently. Many sites require periodic password changes and don’t permit password recycling. Just as you change your smoke alarm batteries every New Year, make it a habit to change your passwords every full moon.
The institutions and companies that you do business with have an obligation to take your protection seriously, implement the highest security standards possible and immediately detect and alert you to any fraudulent activity on your account.
But you have responsibilities too. Following these simple steps will put your mind at ease and help keep you fraud free, scam safe and privacy protected.